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First Lady of U.S. Virgin Islands Opens New CHADD Support Groups

LANDOVER, Md., Oct. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The first lady of the United States Virgin Islands has said from the start of her husband's governorship she intends to help improve the lives of Virgin Islanders affected by attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD).

This week Cecile deJongh saw a major piece of her plan come into place: two CHADD support groups opened on Wednesday and Thursday, one on St. Croix and the second on St. Thomas. CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention- Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is the nation's largest family-based organization serving individuals affected by AD/HD. These new support groups join the more than 200 affiliates nationwide.

DeJongh is focusing her agenda on AD/HD following her own family's experience with the disorder. DeJongh and her husband, Governor John deJongh Jr., have three children; their oldest son was diagnosed 15 years ago with AD/HD.

"We found that CHADD was sort of a lifeline for us," she said. "I thought, as first lady, I could bring some attention to this disorder. When I was first interviewed after my husband's inauguration, I said this was my goal: to raise awareness through a CHADD chapter."

"CHADD is really excited to have these support groups begin in the Virgin Islands," said CHADD President Anne Teeter Ellison. "It was such a powerful meeting because you have the governor and first lady making a commitment to their citizens that they were going to address the problem of ADHD and do it in a coordinated fashion. Mrs. DeJongh is looking forward to working with CHADD. She's really into empowering people and getting them to get the government to meet their needs."

DeJongh said it took her nine months to complete the research and groundwork to launch these chapters. During that time she became one of CHADD's Parent to Parent: Family Training on AD/HD certified teachers.

The first meeting was attended by more than 100 people, including the Virgin Islands commissioners of health, human services and education.

"My idea -- the same idea that I'm sure many other support groups have -- is empowering people, getting people information to help their kids," deJongh said. "Also, to raise awareness among people who don't have anyone in their family with AD/HD. To take away that veil of ignorance. It's an issue of getting out there with information and explaining to parents and teachers and peers of parents what this is."

DeJongh is enthused about these new CHADD support groups and the members they are now attracting.

"My hope is not to be a leader (of these groups) but that there will be some people to step up and lead these programs," she said. "From what I felt at the meetings, there will be many, many people to step up and go from here."

For more information on CHADD, membership, resources and how to begin a new support group go to

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