Youth Leadership Development at PrairieCare By: Jen Holper, LSW, Community Relations

On January 4th something happened at PrairieCare that had not happened before. We hosted a group of over 20 youth leaders from Maple Grove Senior High School.  In collaboration with Partnership for Change, the leadership retreat for the group was intended to guide them in leading with the head and the heart to continue to promote healthy choices as teens.  Incorporating lessons about mental health awareness, communication, and how to cope with stress led to an energetic dialogue that the group will now continue at school with their peers and advisers to plan events throughout the year around awareness, mental health, and coping with stress.

The students who participated are an ambitious and busy bunch of teens!  They are involved in sports, debate, Action for Reaction, National Honor Society, Advisory Councils, they work, they learn, and they lead.  Each student committed to attending the training, on a Saturday, and they came with energy and interest in the topics and in learning how they can make a difference in their community. 

All students attended three workshops.  The intention of the workshops was to bring more understanding to the topic, but also to act as a catalyst, a train the trainer model, for students to bring information back to their school and their peers.  The sessions attended included:

  • “Overview of Mental Health”
  • “Authentic, Compassionate Communication” and
  • “Stress Busting”

In addition to PrairieCare staff facilitating all of the workshops we had the benefit of Action for Reaction advisors, Mr. Detloff, and Ms. Badger to help the group develop an action plan.  The large group was divided into small work groups and was given 10 minutes to brainstorm what they could now do back at school to increase awareness and affect change toward a culture of wellness and acceptance.  Watch out Maple Grove Senior High – this group has great plans!  We look forward to hearing about their efforts and providing support as they need!

For PrairieCare this was a pilot program that we are excited to say was a huge success! Prairie Care co-sponsored the event with Partnership for Change, a community coalition working to reduce youth substance abuse in northwest Hennepin County. We would love to work with other schools in the community to bring the training across the metro.  If you are interested in developing a Youth Leadership Development Program with the support of PrairieCare please contact Jen Holper – 952-334-7755.

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