Last Modified: Monday, August 13, 2012 10:13 PM
The Teen Outreach Program recently honored about 30 teenagers for completing the program, and officials hope to expand their enrollment for the program’s second year.
Barbara Miller, program coordinator, said the nine-month program aims to promote healthy behavior, teach life skills, and give participants a sense of purpose.
Participants meet once a week for a combination of guided group discussions, volunteering, and community service learning, Miller said.
“The curriculum used engages teens in discussions with one another and interactive activities,” she said. “It helps these kids become more positively shaped and equipped with the skills and social behaviors they need when confronted with a conflict.”
Miller said the program has been facilitated across the country, but only within the past year was it brought to Southwest Louisiana.
“It’s an awesome, awesome program,” she said. “We see a lot of changes in these kids. Their attitudes change, and they seem to gain a greater sense of self-worth. A lot of these kids came in not knowing anyone else in the program and by the end they made lifelong friends and it was like they had known each other all their lives.”
Miller said the program teaches teens what to do during “real-life situations they are faced with every day.”
“We have gotten a lot of good feedback from parents and teens that have gone through the program,” she said.
Miller said national statistics for the program show that participating teens have a 52 percent lower risk of school suspension, a 60 percent lower risk of course failure, and a 53 percent lower risk of teen pregnancy.
The program, which will start Sept. 17, is open to teens ages 12-17. Miller said they hope to have 350 students enroll in the free program.
For more information, call the Southwest Louisiana AIDS Council at 439-5861.