Charlie Kuszmaul had an idea to do something that hadn’t been done before, to take therapy services to where the students were — in the schools.
Twenty-five years later, the cutting-edge school-based mental health program, WRAP (Working to Recognize Alternative Possibilities), is still reaching students in Douglas County schools.
Kuszmaul, a former Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center therapist, retired from in 2016, but his vision for WRAP lives on. The groundbreaking program continues to help with the behavioral, emotional, family, and psychological problems students can have.
WRAP is a Bert Nash Center program where — in partnership with Douglas County schools — a master’s-level clinician is assigned to a school to work collaboratively with the school’s own mental health professionals, teachers, and administrators.
The mission of the program is to help support students’ emotional wellbeing to help them achieve academic success. Students can be referred to a WRAP therapist by a parent, counselor, teacher, administrator, or they can self-refer. The WRAP program is available to all students.
“Lawrence Public Schools benefit greatly from strong community partnerships, including our long-standing relationship with Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center,” said Dr. Anthony Lewis, Lawrence superintendent of schools. “Bert Nash’s WRAP specialists complement the support our school mental health and student services teams provide students and link school families to the community resources they need.”
Since the program was initiated 25 years ago, WRAP has impacted the lives of thousands of Lawrence students and their families.
Former Lawrence City Commissioner and teacher Matthew Herbert was one of those students. He benefitted from the WRAP program when he was a student at Free State High School.
“In providing the mental health services within our school buildings that WRAP can provide, we are able to better enable our students to find success both in the classroom and beyond, as they become productive contributors to our community,” Herbert said. “We are so very fortunate in this community to have a resource like Bert Nash and a program like WRAP to serve the needs of our students.”
While funding for the WRAP program and the number of schools where a WRAP therapist is assigned has fluctuated over the years because of funding changes, one thing hasn’t changed. The program still touches lives.
“Even prior to the pandemic, we were seeing children’s mental health becoming more fragile. With the pandemic, we are seeing an increasing number of kids who are needing services,” Bert Nash Center CEO Patrick Schmitz said. “I am grateful that we all have worked together to find a way to fund this critical, life-saving program. As Charlie Kuszmaul once said, ‘Perhaps the ultimate benchmark of WRAP are the lives that are changed … and saved.’”
Help us celebrate & sustain the WRAP program by making a donation at bertnash.org/WRAP or text WRAP to 91999. Your gift of $25, $250, or $2,500 will directly impact the daily therapeutic activities and crisis intervention services to all Douglas County students.