By Jake Hanson, Young Adult Leader
As June draws to a close, we wanted to reflect upon our first month of the Healthy Teens summer program 2021! Every summer, our Teen Health Educators team up and volunteer with different locations serving our youth here in Manatee County. Each team is led by one or two of our Young Adult Leaders, those who have graduated from the THE program and chose to continue working with us on a paid basis! This summer, our teams have been volunteering for each week with several non-profit organizations, including the Educational Consultants Consortium (Kelly Brown Center), Family Resources Safe Place 2B Youth Shelter, Palmetto Boys and Girls Club, DeSoto Boys and Girls Club, and the Safe Children’s Coalition Teen Summit.
At each of these locations, we strive to do more than simply present education through peer-on-peer interactions. Our Teen Health Educators and Young Adult Leaders love to create meaningful relationships with every single student, and we often come away from each presentation having learned something new ourselves. We engage in genuine discussions about serious topics and have no hesitation when it comes to talking about issues that are presenting themselves in our students – whether someone is a victim of bullying and peer pressure, or needs advice on how to prepare for a job interview.
We are always looking to expand our list of educational topics to make sure they are focused on the issues that are actually affecting youth in our area so that we are constantly providing up-to-date, applicable information. Our list of topics for this summer includes the use of social media, job interview skills, e-cigarettes, and vaping, bullying, trauma, peer pressure, mental health, contraceptive/sexually transmitted diseases, substance use, and anger management. We know that these lessons can be serious and can present a lot of sensitive and challenging information. Therefore, we always try to be as interactive as possible and help the students get to know us better, so they feel more comfortable accepting the information we share and may even feel up to sharing their own personal experiences!
Young Adult Leader, Jake Hanson, has been volunteering with other THEs at some of our locations this summer. Jake says, “I’ve been at DeSoto and Palmetto Boys and Girls Club, as well as the Kelly Brown Center, and this has been one of the best summers so far. We’ve covered a lot of information already, like job interview skills and trauma management, and we’ve also had some really great discussions and I think everyone’s getting comfortable enough to share specific experiences they’ve had relating to the content.” Aside from presenting, our teams also play games and do different activities and icebreakers to get to know everyone better.
Finally, on behalf of the Healthy Teens Coalition, Chaplain Kelvin Foster – a certified trauma specialist – is providing educational information and mentoring to students at AMIKids Manatee. His lessons and mentoring center around trauma and mental well-being, and the AMI Kids program provides for year-round education for middle school boys to grow both personally and academically.
We are so excited to continue through the end of this month and into July at all of our wonderful non-profit locations, and to continue educating others while making those meaningful and genuine friendships with every student!