Social Work in the Public Eye (June 2017)

Chastity Wells-ArmstrongNASW member Chastity Wells-Armstrong, a former board member for the NASW Illinois Chapter, was highlighted in the Kankakee Daily Journal for defeating the two-term Republican mayor and being elected the city of Kankakee’s first black mayor. Wells-Armstrong, a first-term 5th Ward alderwoman, defeated two-term Republican Mayor Nina Epstein by 215 votes in a three-way race, the story notes. She is the city’s first Democratic mayor since 1993, the newspaper added. The article says Wells-Armstrong told her supporters, “This is a movement. We are tired of the status quo. This is our win. This does not stop tonight.” Asked about the significance of becoming the first African-American mayor in Kankakee, Wells-Armstrong, a deputy district director for U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, said her win gives hope to anyone who wants to rise to levels never reached before, the story says. “I never saw a black mayor when I was a little kid,” she was quoted as saying. “But I did see other people who have hope. I ran as the mayor for everyone.”

John CowartRecent NASW Social Worker of the Year Award recipient John Cowart was profiled in the Atlantic magazine in its series of interviews with American workers. The article notes that Cowart, a veteran, worked for 30 years as a social worker before retiring from the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Asheville, N.C. It says he has helped those who fought in conflicts dating back to the Spanish-American War, most notably arranging reunions and trips for veterans with PTSD to visit the national war museums in Washington, D.C. Cowart told the magazine that the stigma attached to seeking mental health treatment has prevented a lot of people from getting that help. “One of the clinical symptoms of PTSD is to shut down emotionally — it’s pretty easy to do — but you’re going to pay a heavy cost in your relationships with family,” he says in the article. “You won’t be the husband or the father that you could be. I think some people are able to reach out and get help, but we’re still not there.”

Lynn Lyons“Just as a toddler learns how to react after a fall by the look on his parent’s face, teenagers learn how to navigate the world socially and emotionally by watching their parents’ day-to-day reactions to the ups and downs of life,” said an article on resilience published in the Foster’s Daily Democrat in New Hampshire. It quotes NASW member Lynn Lyons, a Concord-based clinical social worker and author of “Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents: 7 Way to Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous and Independent Children.” One of the signs of an emotionally equipped teenager, Lyons said, is the ability to handle the unexpected. “The more experience we give kids in not getting their own way, not getting what they want, not achieving something, the better,” Lyons said, because the experience teens have in these areas helps them decide how to go about getting something they really want.

Rachel KazezNASW member Rachel Kazez was interviewed for, a website that says it helps empower women through articles and discussions related to women’s issues. In a segment called “What your teenage daughter wants you to know – but won’t tell you,” Kazez says it’s important for parents to support their teen daughters, even if they don’t share their personal style. “Girls might wish parents understood that their personal style and way of being is not confined to gender norms,” said Kazez, a licensed clinical social worker based in Chicago and founder of All Along.

Kazez also suggests ways to improve communication. “Try engaging with your teen in a variety of ways and being open to their preferences and pace,” she is quoted saying. “For example, your teen might tend to share details about their life while driving in the car, while another of your children might feel more connected and want to share while in nature or doing an activity,” Kazez said.

To read other media stories like these, visit Social Workers Speak.