Just For Me
Teen-agers, especially those living in poverty, face multiple daily challenges. When unable to cope appropriately, these challenges can lead adolescents into depression, insecurity, academic failure and a loss of hope for the future. In October 2015 the Buffalo Public Schools conducted a district-wide survey that revealed BPS students in comparison to high school students state-wide are at high-risk in the areas of:
- Suicide attempts
- Engaging in physical fights
- Early initiation of marijuana use
- Early initiation of sexual activity
- Not using any method to prevent pregnancy
- Skipping breakfast
- High levels of sedentary behaviors
Since 2013, Buffalo Public School students report increased:
- Carrying a weapon
- Extended computer use outside of school
- Having unprotected sex
- Steroid use
Studies show having positive self- esteem and a healthy self-image is a major component to a teenager’s success. The healthy development of self-esteem and self-image is imperative to positive outcomes in a teen’s life.
In 2015, EPIC piloted a new program. EPIC took its Just For Me series, a life skills and confidence building program for at-risk teens, and added a summertime work/mentoring internship component. This provided participants the opportunity to build life skills and confidence, as well as workable traits and a professional work ethic. EPIC offered this 20 hour a week, 8-week program to 10 teenage students from the Buffalo Urban League Summer Youth program. Half the time participants assisted staff with work projects; the other half the students attended Just For Me workshops that focused on life skills and workplace professionalism. The internship culminated with a “Celebrating Me” event where participants created visual presentations summing up their experience over the summer.
Just For Me, started in 2009, is a life skills program for middle and high school students conducted in a supportive and non-judgmental environment, allowing for the development of trust between the participants and the facilitator. Just For Me provides a program structure that addresses the needs of teens, specifically those living in more impoverished areas. The programs are tailored to the needs of the audience. They can be half day or all day workshops. They are typically incorporated into an afterschool program.
Teens served by this program live in the highest poverty and crime areas. Our goal is to provide a positive experience for the teen to focus in them and to result in a positive impact on the teen’s life.
The overall emphasis in the Just For Me workshops is on healthy relationships, personal health and well-being. The workshops cover a variety of topics such as:
- Getting What You Want From a Relationship
- Support Systems, Communication
- Needs and Wants
- Setting Goals
- Resolving Conflicts
- Celebrating Me
The goals of the Just For Me programming is to increase confidence in teens, increase academic achievement, and influence a higher graduation rate. The benefits to participating teens from the Just For Me program include learning valuable life skills, sharing experiences among other teens, and linking them to helpful community resources.
Since its inception, the Just For Me program has helped over 200 teenagers in the WNY community. EPIC has conducted Just For Me programming for the D’Youville College Nursing Workforce Diversity program, which provides support necessary for success in post-secondary nursing education for disadvantaged high school students. Currently EPIC’s Just For Me is being conducted at South Park High School, East High School, Health Science Charter School, and the Buffalo Urban League In-School Youth Program.