We are only 5 weeks away from the 7th annual #TL5K, and our Kick Off Event is tomorrow, March 1st!
Please join us for dinner to hear about the great plans we have for this year’s 5K! RSVP here today.
Teen Lifeline’s vision statement is to “encourage, equip and empower teenagers to live life better.” This is done through Support Groups that take place during school hours, but sometimes in order to fully equip, encourage and empower the students we work with, our facilitators decide to go above and beyond their expected duties.
We love it when our facilitators become invested in the lives of the students they serve, and no one does it better than Jason Herman. Jason is the Lead Student Minister at The Hills Church’s North Richland Hills Campus. He has lead groups with Teen Lifeline since 2013 and has a particular passion for working with teenaged dads. He is able to form meaningful relationships with these teen dads because of the conversations had and resources that are exchanged. We are so glad that he has chosen to “get out of the boat!”
When I was a kid, I loved bumper boats (you know, bumper cars on water). I got a kick out of smashing into other unsuspecting bumper boat enthusiasts. The thing about bumper boats, however, is that you rarely react with the people in the other boats. You simply float from one person to the next and are never truly in control of what happens on the water. Sometimes, I think we approach life the same way. We wake up, get ready, coast through the day bumping into others only to get home, go to sleep, and repeat. It’s a chain reaction of events that simply lead to the next day, and we completely miss opportunities to fully engage people. So the question becomes, how do we break routine?
Perhaps the obvious first move is to get out of the boat. This looks different for everyone but for me, and many of us who work in the church, it means getting out of the office and engaging the community. That is why I love Teen Lifeline. Over the past three years I have worked with teen dads and been able to develop relationships with school administrators, staff, teachers, counselors, and students. As those relationships have developed, opportunities to engage people became a reality. Which leads me to the next crucial piece in breaking routine.
We have to keep our eyes open for opportunities to take the relationship deeper. I have found that such opportunities present themselves when a need is stated during group, which leads to a chance to engage outside of group. For example, during one session, my dads discussed several resources that were unavailable to them. Their needs ranged from being able to provide a turkey for Thanksgiving, buying Christmas presents for their children, to needing an attorney for various legal problems. In this situation, needs became opportunity to break routine. Coordinating with The Hills Church, each dad was given access to resources they desperately needed. Coincidently, none of this took place in our typical group meeting. It all happened outside group. We have to look beyond the group if we really want to engage lives.
When we engage people, understand their needs, and do more than simply bump into them, the routine of everyday life is shattered. Trust is earned and life moves from individuals bumping into one another to an adventure that is lived together. I love working with teen dads, and there is nothing like when one of them invites you into their life. Sometimes this even looks like a baby shower, a birthday party, or a wedding ceremony. This is life lived better, and there’s no telling what adventure tomorrow may bring.
We are only 7 weeks away from our 7th annual TL5K!
As we continue to share stories from our Teen Lifeline Support Groups, we hope that you are seeing the benefits that these groups bring to the students, school districts, campus counselors and the facilitators that lead these groups.
We are so passionate about our #TL5K is because the funds raised by this one event help make these groups possible! We have the opportunity to continue to grow and reach teenagers with 100 volunteer facilitators trained to use our Life Lived Better Curriculum to lead support groups in their local school or church.
One of my favorite things about working for Teen Lifeline is sharing group stories with these other facilitators, and this has been especially fun since my mother-in-law, Julee Duke, started leading groups this semester! I may be a little biased, but she is providing support and encouragement to students who need a listening ear and a chance to be heard and accepted. Her job, and the goal of all of our facilitators, is to equip, encourage and empower the students in their groups to live life better – to choose to live a better and different story.
My name is Julee Duke, and I am leading my first Teen Lifeline group at a Middle School in Fort Worth ISD. I have nine 8th grade girls in my group, and although we are only halfway through the 8-week Support Group Curriculum, I have learned so much about these girls and their need for hope in their lives.
The first week proved to be challenging with one girl not making eye contact with me or speaking a word, but slowly scooting her chair closer and closer until she was right beside me by the end of our time together. Since that first day, she is the first one in the room and the last one out, in hopes of having a one-on-one moment with me outside of the group. She is now looking at me, smiling and sharing difficult memories and joyous victories – HOPE!
With this particular girl and the rest of the group, as the weeks have passed, hearts have softened. The girls are now fully engaged and look forward to our time together. It isn’t me or the snacks that I provide at the end that makes them want to come back – it’s that their deep desire to be heard and acknowledged is being met, some for the first time in their young lives.
There have been tears shed, confessions made, and difficult stories shared. I am extremely thankful for this opportunity and am blessed to be a small part of encouraging young people that there is hope for a better life.
In case you missed our last blog on hope, check out Chris Robey’s ideas on Helping Students Find Hope in Hopelessness.
We are less than 9 weeks away from our 7th annual #TL5K! In order to celebrate our biggest fundraiser of the year and bring awareness to what actually happens through Teen Lifeline Support Groups, we are going to release a bonus blog once a week until our 5K on April 2nd! These blogs will be a small glimpse into the stories of teenagers we work with and some of the facilitators who make these groups possible.
We are passionate about these groups because we get to see the faces, hear the stories and speak truth every single week. If you are just now getting introduced to Teen Lifeline or are wanting to know more about how we are helping teenagers live life better, these stories over the next 9 weeks are going to be a great way to take a behind-the-scenes peek at our non-profit.
I often get asked about our support groups and what a successful group looks like. You have no idea how tricky that question is…what does the perfect family look like? What are the characteristics of a perfect classroom? These questions are impossible to answer because…it depends.
It depends on the situation, the group of students, the needs of the group and the end-goal. Every single one of my groups is different, but one is not necessarily more successful than the others; however, there is one group in particular that comes to mind when I think of facilitating these support groups.
Last year, I was able to lead a middle school support group at an alternative campus (these are students who have been moved from there campus for one disciplinary reason or another). This being the first group I had ever led, I was nervous and a little (or a lot) anxious. I wondered how I would relate to these young trouble makers, if they would actually talk to me and how I would get them to connect with each other when they were more worried about video games and which boy liked them that week. Through the course of a school year, I saw over 36 middle schoolers in group, some that stayed with me for several months and some who were only there a couple of weeks.
In one particular group, we were talking about stress (by playing with play-doh, of course!), and one of the girls brought up her situation living in foster care. She talked about the stress of moving through different foster homes and new “siblings” that she was trying to get along with.
In this same group, I had a boy who sweet, brilliant, and very shy. He rarely spoke up in group, but as his peer talked about her fears and anxiety about home life, he stopped her and asked, “Are you okay? Do they ever hurt you?” He cut right to he chase (which made me a little nervous), but showed empathy in a way that was surprising for a middle schooler. Without me saying a word, these two started a conversation about getting help if she didn’t feel safe and how to deal with difficult family members. Even though I was the group facilitator, these two guided our group through discussion around dealing with stress and how to positively react when you are put in negative situations.
If I had to pick one thing, that would be my favorite characteristic of a successful group – when they reach out and encourage one another. Finding a connecting point with peers is huge, especially if you feel like you are on an island all by yourself. Our groups empower teenagers to seek out these relationships and let them know that they are not the only ones dealing with junk.
I am so thankful that I work for a ministry that allows these types of conversations to happen. A ministry that equips students to deal with stressful situations, encourages teens to open up and seek relationships, and empowers them to live their best life possible.
“I am honored to introduce to you Allison B. Lewis. Allison is a mom, accountant, mentor, blogger and…my wife. We have been married for almost 11 years and I am so blessed by her. I wanted to take this opportunity to share a post she launched last week. She puts into words why Teen Lifeline does what we do. You can read more from her on her blog at DeepRollingRightField.Blogspot.com. This is also a great opportunity for you to make a donation to our 4th Annual 5K Run/Walk and help us reach our goal so we can keep reaching teens.”
This week I’ve been mad.
Maybe more mad than I have ever been before.
Because when I think about all the hurt, the lack of resources for people that are hurting, how the choices of one person can impact generation after generation…
I GET MAD.
Lately my frustration has been pretty narrowly focused.
I HATE DRUGS.