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Derell and Etta with Rep. Gwen Moore

Milwaukee family went to D.C. to advocate for health care

In June, 9-year-old Derell represented Children’s Wisconsin and all the kids we serve as he met with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to help improve access to mental health care. As amazing as that is for any kid, just over a year ago Derell struggled to focus in school and was being bullied. He often would come home sad and upset.

These issues came to light during a routine checkup with his pediatrician at Children’s Wisconsin Midtown Clinic. Derell completed a mental and behavioral health screening tool. His brave and honest answers showed Derell had signs of depression and behavioral issues.

With that knowledge, Derell and his mom were partnered with Dr. Nick Young, a pediatric psychologist at the Midtown Clinic. Together, the three developed a plan to help Derell manage his behavior and emotions. Once he had these tools, Derell flourished. By the end of second grade, he was getting along with other kids and his grades improved. Today, Derell just finished third grade and he’s on top of the world.

With that experience, Derell and Etta wanted to give back and advocate for other kids. They volunteered to travel to Washington, D.C., as part of Children’s Wisconsin Association’s Family Advocacy Day. There they met with Senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson, Representative Gwen Moore and legislative staff of Representatives Ron Kind and Mark Pocan. Derell encouraged those lawmakers to support Medicaid and increase mental and behavioral health care for kids — especially school-based care.

Thank you to Derell and his mom for sharing how policy impacts kids every day and to the elected officials who took time to hear their story.