Certified Replication Partners in our National Network are successfully replicating Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program® (TOP®) across the country. The National Network Spotlight highlights a partner and celebrates their positive outcomes.
In Broward County, Florida, Smith Community Mental Health (SCMH) helps teens with behavioral health issues overcome personal obstacles and change their lives for the better. They serve 80 teens from at risk environments each year and use Wyman’s TOP® program for more than teaching essential life skills—it is also an excellent chance to help better their community.
“I feel TOP® has positively influenced the teens’ choices by giving them a safe environment where they feel free to discuss difficult topics openly,” said Brooke Tenenbaum, program manager. “Our teens have learned a number of life lessons like the importance of helping others, being able to have safe and healthy domestic relationships, practicing safe sex, speaking up for themselves, and how to work well with peers for a common goal.“
The program has also educated the teens about the importance of helping others in the community. Community service projects have included suicide prevention activities and beach cleanup projects.
One of the most meaningful activities that the group has participated in was a feeding the homeless project during the winter months. Following their day of volunteering, the teens and facilitators sat down together at a restaurant for a “family meal” – an unusual experience for many of the young people. While they enjoyed their food, the teens began to open up about their personal experiences with homelessness.
“It was very powerful to hear our youth describe their own struggles after a day of helping others. Some of them still face the problem of homelessness, but they gave their time to help others,” said Tenebaum.
“Seeing how engaged the youth become and how trusting they are with the facilitators and other peers in the groups is my favorite part. This is why it’s so beneficial that our staff is made up of various professionals that are experienced with at-risk youth,” she said.
Tenenbaum and the staff widely agree that TOP® has touched the lives of participating teens as well as the community. The teens have been very vocal that they feel blessed to have the program as a source of help and a personal refuge.