Last week, I mentioned in passing Teen Esteem in the piece about Graham Wiseman and his mental health initiative for low-wealth school districts. He wants to put wellness centers in them—copying what’s working in more affluent districts and pay for it with money from a custom California license plate.
Teen Esteem, based on face-to-face contact with students and parents, required a huge pivot in its prevention program. I know this organization well having served on its board for six years. During that time, a key question that came up over and over again was how to scale the program to reach more students. In the high schools, the key outreach to students has been speaking in 9th grade health classes. The organization also presents grade-appropriate assemblies in middle and elementary schools.
Teen Esteem speakers engage students about the choices they make and help them understand potential consequences of those choices. The message is never what to do—it’s understanding your choices and their potential impacts.
With school virtual in the Tri-Valley for much of the school year, that required a pivot to reach students by Zoom. It also opened up the opportunity to scale and reach beyond the local area with videos. The pivot also took parent education from in-person sessions to Facebook Live and it was a homerun. Through mid-May when presentations were pretty much finished, Teen Esteem had reached 11,082 additional parents through social media and 8,745 through Facebook Live. The “opens” on information-based emails soared to 23,712. Simply put, parents were desperate for good information.
The total reach was 14,991 combining students and parents. That included 20 schools and 19 new venues. Teen Esteem volunteer speakers did 93 classroom presentations and 42 parent education events. That included a school in Hartford, CT as well as a variety of local schools and organizations.
All-in-all, a year of huge challenge and remarkable growth as parents, in particular, sought expertise of Teen Esteem built over more than 25 years since Executive Director Linda Turnbull founded the non-profit.