Teens need a safe environment to learn and explore how to cope with daily challenges. They learn most effectively through experiences rather than lectures. It is essential to use the lens of strengths, capacities, gifts and vulnerabilities of adolescents, rather than pathologizing or promoting a problem-saturated approach. The strengths-based approach for this curriculum emphasizes facilitated learning and exploration and focuses on developing capacities, self-reflection and coping skills.
Through group participation, journaling, music, group discussion, art activities, and other experientials, participants in the EveryBody Matters Program are given the opportunity and the platform to work through problems most salient to their age group and developmental stage. At the same time, they are encouraged to have fun and build a sense of connection and personal importance. Topics addressed in this curriculum include: identity development, peer pressure, bullying, stress management, body image, self-esteem, healthy relationships, personal choice, power and responsibility.
EveryBody Matters is a 10-week program, one session per week (as school schedule permits) during approximately 60-minute sessions (rotating periods/lunch block/after school) determined by school and Elyssa’s Mission staff. This program is fully funded by Elyssa’s Mission, implemented by Elyssa’s Mission licensed staff with co-facilitation by school clinical staff member. Students eligible for the EBM program include but are not limited to: peer leaders as well as students facing varying difficulties (e.g., learning disabilities/academic challenges, family stressors, low self-esteem, poor social skills, emotional/mental health issues, etc.)
By the end of the group experience, the participants will have struggled with many difficult feelings and topics, as well as potentially challenging group dynamics. Through the group experience, however, participants will have learned to respect each other, to advocate for their own needs and to strengthen their voices while hearing and respecting other’s perspectives.