All across Minnesota, Teenwise Minnesota youth are making positive contributions to their communities through Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program®. One of Wyman’s National Network’s first partners, Teenwise has implemented TOP throughout Hennepin and Ramsey County. Through TOP, facilitators like Emily Erickson have witnessed teens gain confidence in themselves and their peers.
“There was a student in TOP who struggled with social relationships with her peers,” Erickson said. “She had a lot of social anxiety and would often say whatever came to her mind… [At the end of the year] she shared with me that TOP gave her the courage to volunteer on her own for an animal rescue organization.”
Erickson’s experience at Annex Teen Clinic mirrors those of Kale Severson and Nikki Monette, TOP facilitators at other Teenwise sites. “I truly enjoyed [facilitating TOP] because my teens challenged themselves, struggled, and came together as a group. Their growth and self-accomplishment increased throughout the year as they built trust and healthy relationships with one another during their community service projects,” Monette added.
Some of the community service learning projects TOP teens organized included a school-wide anti-violence campaign, food drives for homeless shelters, and the creation of a “9th Grade Survival Guide” for incoming high school freshman. Teens across the county have also taken an interest in supporting US troops by creating care packages and selling candy to raise money to ship the care packages.
By giving young people control over community service, Severson believes that TOP encourages teens to take ownership in the program and their future: “Going out and serving our [community] through a youth led initiative is powerful proof that our [teens] are building healthy behaviors, life skills, and a sense of purpose.”