“This is a Teen-lead experiential program designed to improve trust building, listening skills, and better communication,” according to a PowerPoint presentation developed by the teens.
During a regular teacher workshop at Taos Municipal Schools, area teens brought the topic of communication and mental health to the table for a new type of discussion.
A group of six teens worked for a month on a presentation and workshop for teachers on the importance of communication and mental health awareness in schools.
“Our young people have such creative minds,” said St. James Episcopal Church youth minister Jill Cline. “I think it very important to strengthen their spirit and feed their souls by helping them to find their voices on all topics and be heard.”
Cline has been working with students from Common Grounds, a teen advocacy and support group in Taos, as well as others to complete the workshop. Taos Area Teens, as the group is known, is made up of Taos HOPE, Common Grounds, Teens Take the Lead and the Taos Youth Homeless Advisory Board.
During the workshop, teens met with counselors from Taos schools to discuss the importance of improving conversations in schools in talking about bullying, depression and school safety. “This is a Teen-lead experiential program designed to improve trust building, listening skills, and better communication,” according to a PowerPoint presentation developed by the teens.
“I hope that we can talk to the new governor about changing things a little bit,” said facilitator River Joy Johnson. “I want there to be less bullying and hopefully there will be adults who teens can talk to without that fear of them going to hospital or psychiatric ward.”
Johnson, a founder of the group, said her ultimate goal with the workshop is to create a safe culture in schools where teens can feel comfortable discussing their feelings and fears. While there are plans to expand the workshop into other classrooms and schools, Johnson said nothing has been finalized just yet.
The teens supplemented the discussion with storytelling activities as well as videos and poems. Though the majority of employees had taken part in other professional development that day, the group plans to bring their efforts into the schools to spread the discussion of good communication.
“The kids have already been invited into a classroom to host this workshop by students for students,” Cline said. “We hope to be invited again to TMS for further and more expansive workshops with more staff.”
The students in the group will continue their efforts and have hopes to take their discussion to students younger than high school age.
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