Teen LifeAbility: Turning Interests Into Empowerment
In a world overrun by screen time and increased social pressures from social media, teens deserve a place to let loose with their peers. They deserve a place to be creative, share experiences with one another, and make new friends all while learning about new tools that help them navigate the world of high school and plan for their futures.
As our Teen LifeAbility summer pilot wraps up and we begin planning for future sessions, we wanted to give you an update on all the program has accomplished so far. Each session’s topic is chosen by the teens and developed in coordination with our Teen Speakers and Facilitators. This summer, teens had the opportunity to explore their superpowers and express themselves through song all while connecting with their peers.
“You only have your thoughts and dreams ahead of you.” -Batman
During our Superhero Sessions, Teen Speaker Anicee Lamoreaux led the teens in a conversation that allowed teens to share their personal experiences and have their voices heard. Teens opened-up about feeling lonely, having trouble making friends, and their own thoughts getting in the way of their successes and happiness. Having a community to share their emotions with proved to be invaluable.
By thinking about the Superheroes they watch on the big screen, teens were able to see that in everyday life, they too, are a lot like Superheroes. They have their friends who help them through the day, they have nemeses to overcome, and they are helpful to others. And, like all Superheroes, every teen needs a quiet place to recharge.
Having a space for teens to be teens is important. While their parents converse in the next room, teens can express themselves freely and have open and honest conversation about what they are experiencing in their lives. These conversations ultimately lead to new realizations about themselves. When given the opportunity to dream and express themselves freely, we’ve started to see the teens’ confidence grow. While the topics up for discussion may be heavy at times, we know our teens, with their Superhero powers, can tackle any challenges that come their way.
“Imagination Creates Reality” -Richard Wagner, Composer
Songwriting truly allowed each teen to shine while feeling supported and heard by their peers. It allowed them to express themselves through heavy metal screams, hip-hop verses, and country tunes.
Arjun Sharma, a music therapist, joined us for a Teen LifeAbility session. As a versatile musician, he was able to play music from all genres. First, Arjun started by telling the teens that the first step to writing a song is to begin with a single word or phrase. Together they wrote a hip-hop verse and a folk song. Then, it was time for the teens to write their own song.
Writing a song can be powerful. Lyrics can help us express emotions through music that we might not be able to express in everyday life. Lyric writing and singing can help us process these emotions, help us share our joy, and push through challenges all while building confidence. By choosing a genre and writing lyrics, teens were given the opportunity to perform their song. Some teens even took the opportunity to free-style. Each teen’s song was unique and shared with us a piece of their inner world, while the exercise also allowed teens to use their imagination and express themselves in new ways.
While the teens need a space to be teens, the parents need a space to be parents and ask questions about how they can best support their teens through the transition years. In attendance at each session is a Parent Advisor. They’ve been through it already. Throughout the session, parents have the opportunity to ask questions and understand the options that exist for them and their child upon graduation.
Teen LifeAbility: What's Next
Building community among their peers allows the teens to express their opinions and share their experiences freely, which ultimately leads to confidences and helps teens find their own voice. While the topics up for discussion can be challenging, Teen LifeAbility strives to tackle the obstacles of the teenage years with fun and new opportunities for expression and growth.
We look forward to future sessions that will allow teens to connect with role models in our community and become role models for each other. Through building connection, communication, and self-esteem, Teen LifeAbility will continue to inspire teens to express themselves freely and uncover their hopes and dreams for their futures.
Upcoming Training Dates
Teen LifeAbility Talks: Coffee House
Our next Teen LifeAbility will be based around our Coffee House program and will take place October 17. Please contact Valerie Smith at (303) 232-1338 or at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.