Certified Replication Partners in Wyman’s National Network are successfully replicating Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program® across the country. The National Network Spotlight highlights a partner and celebrates their positive outcomes.
The community of Roanoke, Virginia has been participating in Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program® (TOP®) since the early nineties. Family Service of Roanoke Valley embraced the well-respected program in 1996, which currently reaches middle and high-school aged youth in public and private schools, and community organizations throughout the Roanoke community.
Family Service of Roanoke Valley serves 236 teens through TOP® and is expected to reach over 300 by the end of the current school year. Remarkably they reach all of these teens with a full time staff of just six facilitators. The TOP® facilitators are fun and engaging which allows the teens to make real-life connections. With the ongoing adult support, these relationships keep the teens involved while motivating them to make healthy choices. “We feel as though we make a difference in the lives of the teens we work with and for the community issues we impact,” said Sarah Jane Lawrence, TOP® Manager.
Currently, the issue of hunger is extremely important to the TOP® teens and they participate in a variety of activities to provide healthy foods to those in need. The group calls themselves Hunger Busters and not only helps to sort food at the local food bank, Feeding America, but also serves food at a local shelter, and keeps up with community garden plots by planting and growing organic vegetables to give back to the community.
For many of the facilitators, the community service learning component is their favorite part of the program. “Community service learning is extremely valuable because aside from gaining experiences that will prove beneficial to their futures; CSL is viewed as a privilege and the bonding that goes on during CSL activities is priceless,” Lawrence said.