TOP Success Story: Empowering Healthy, Thriving Teens

The Green River District Health Department delivers Wyman’s Teen Outreach
Program® in five counties throughout rural Kentucky. This TOP® provider reaches a
total of 300 teens, a large portion of the more than 1,100 youth served by TOP
in Kentucky.

Families in the Green River Health District face a number of challenges—low graduation rates, increasing poverty and crime rates, and a growing prevalence of risky health behaviors.

TOP is incorporated into 13 schools across the region to improve the outcomes for the next generation.

With the support of Wyman’s training team, Angela Woosley, Public Health Services Supervisor and registered nurse, coordinates the program across the schools.

Utilizing Wyman’s Train the Trainer model, through the Kentucky Department for Public Health, Woosley leads training to help adults deliver the program.

Surveys benchmark the program’s progress and impact.

“Youth are asked if they have positive people in their lives that they can trust and learn from—someone who encourages them to do great things. Many of our teens have trouble answering that question because they lack those adults in their lives,” said Woosley.

“TOP gives us the framework to become that positive, caring adult in their lives who doesn’t judge them… When we say their previous experiences, like stealing, fighting or skipping school, do not define them, and they can change their future, it opens their minds to their potential.”

“Many of the teens we serve are lost in the school system. They are not cheerleaders or football players, and haven’t been a part of social or leadership settings to develop their confidence and sense of self. In TOP, they take part in community service that brings their exceptional talents to the surface, and helps them develop skills like empathy, problem-solving and goal-setting. They become empowered, and recommit themselves to school because they want to be in TOP,” added Woosley.

Conversations in Woosley’s TOP clubs have unearthed major challenges teens struggled with that could have changed their life trajectories. “In one of my TOP clubs, a young person shared that she was thinking about running away. But because she developed trust in us and her peers, they listened and began offering their help and support. We connected her with the vital resources she needed.”

“Because of the positive way that TOP helps us approach youth — we don’t condemn students, like this particular student, for missing school. We say, ‘we’re so glad you’re here,’ and take the time to find out what’s really going on. It’s those moments that make me a believer. TOP is that life-changing.”

In 2017, Wyman launched updated TOP curriculum and training to nearly 60 TOP partners across the US who serve more than 22,200 youth.