The team of ARDX Foundation’s START Summer interns, the START Program Manager, the ARDX Foundation Executive Director in partnership with the Executive Director of Stop Abuse made a difference this summer.
This program delivered an amazing learning experience for our youth this summer. We delivered our program to over 500 youth and empowered them to tell their stories about their own mental health. These youth had the opportunity to share their stories, ask questions and learn from others on how to deal with these very important topics and Simon taught them about inappropriate touching. They will always remember the START Interns encouraging them to tell an adult about their feelings and experiences, and not to give up until they were heard.
In summary, the results were very impressive. An overall average of 82% of youth learned something new on the topics presented each week. The “before” and “after” each mental health informational presentation results are summarized below:
- On average, 59% of youth believed they would have been able to talk to someone about topics discussed before participating in this program.
- On average, 93% of youth believed they would have been able to talk to someone about topics discussed after participating in this program.
Our objectives for the program were achieved:
(1) Educate the youth about mental health by sharing personal stories and videos.
(2) Teach the youth to courageously express themselves, allowing them to talk about these topics.
(3) Use their inner voice and their experiences to engage adults to support their mental wellness.
Our three START Summer Interns also learned the power of their own stories. Through their stories, they empowered the youth to tell their stories. These youth listened very carefully when each START Intern shared their personal stories about dealing with depression and/or why they had to change schools because of bullying. After the START interns told their stories, the youth opened up and shared their own stories of dealing with anger, going to therapy and taking medicine for their own wellness. Other youth shared the many reasons why they felt sad, such as the youth that had parents in the military and grandparents that no longer lived with them. When we presented our program on “Bullying” we did not have enough time to hear all the bullying stories. It appeared that most youth had experienced Bullying at one time or another.
Each session was successful for various reasons, and the START Interns really connected with the youth at the YMCA Armed Services summer program. This was a best practice to deliver all three topics to the same group of youth. These youth got to know the Interns and were looking forward to seeing Simon each week.
These youth showed us how to ignore the STIGMA, tell their stories and demand to be heard. Their actions are changing our culture and our narrative about mental health and wellness. We should all take time to listen to our youth.
For the full report, click the link below: