The Year of Kindness for Kids celebrates high school aged teens

R.O.C.K. Juneau (Raising our Children with Kindness) continues A Year of Kindness for Kids.

This month, Juneau gears up for another year of school success and efforts to build a community where kids of all ages experience high quality learning, and growth in understanding themselves, their circle of friends and family and the world around them.

Throughout August, R.O.C.K. Juneau’s Year of Kindness for Kids action team will highlight the needs and services that support Juneau’s teens. Students in their high school years continue to explore and expand their individual identity, choices and challenges with growing independence, relationships, trust and compassion. Youth look to healthy and grounded adults for guidance and support, as well as meaningful activities that foster these essential skills.

While greater alignment and breadth is needed to build a seamless, inclusive system of support for all teens, Juneau currently has a variety of programs and healthy messages open to high school aged students.

The Zach Gordon Youth Center hosts “Teen Talk Tuesday,” with a variety of safe and respectful conversations hosted by both adults and teens on topics such as racial and gender equity, self-care, climate change, and healthy relationships and sexuality.

Each of our three high schools houses a Teen Health Center, which offers confidential and free health services to students regardless of family income. Teens can receive health assessments, sports physicals, diagnosis and treatment of minor injuries or illness, behavioral health counseling, reproductive health and nutrition consultation as well as other services. The Centers strive to support teens as they move through the natural physical and emotional changes of adolescence.

Juneau Youth Services (JYS) also supports teens with various behavioral/mental health, chemical dependency services and residential programs. JYS offers a Transitional Living Program for youth ages 16-21 who need extra support with learning the skills of living independently.

At Thunder Mountain High School this year the INTERACT Program will be partnering with an orphanage in Kenya that provides housing and education to 300 elementary aged youngsters. INTERACT students hope to provide basic learning materials to this center, with a long-term goal of making a trip there in the Fall of 2019 or the Spring of 2020 to aid in their school construction. Juneau’s INTERACT teens are excited to help another community reach their dreams of educating their children.

Sources of Strength is a student centered, positive school climate program at both JDHS and TMHS. This program aims to reduce stigma, break codes of silence and encourage positive support to reduce violence, substance abuse and prevent suicide in Juneau teens. It empowers teens to be agents of change by learning about and living from one or more areas (sources) of strength: spirituality, medical access, mental health, family support, positive friends, mentors, healthy activities and generosity.

Kindness (and kindness projects) abounds at all of our schools!

If any of these teen projects, supports or activities have special interest to you, please reach out to the schools to learn more and find a way to help. Your connection and support, however small, makes a real difference in the continuum of meeting the complex needs our young people.

• Tayler Shae is the Early Literacy Outreach Coordinator with AEYC, and Becky Roth is the coordinator for R.O.C.K. Juneau. They can each be contacted at R.O.C.K. Juneau (Raising Our Children with Kindness) is a monthly column that continues the kindness celebration by hosting a Year of Kindness for Kids during 2018.

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