BENNINGTON — Returning for its second year, the Teens4Change Youth Summit will be held on April 22 at the Mount Anthony High School from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to promote a "Healthy State of Mind."
Sponsored by the United Counseling Service (UCS), the day-long summit will offer 10 workshops that are an hour long, and seven "mini mental health moments" (MMHM) that run for 15 minutes. Participants should choose two workshops upon registration and two MMHM to attend the day of the event.
Some workshop topics include using a personalized zen garden to practice meditation, experiencing the use of marijuana through a simulation, a discussion on self-harm awareness, a self-management workshop to practice better study habits, a therapeutic painting workshop and an oral health awareness workshop with many more.
Corey Borden, a Teens4Change member, will be co-facilitating the self-harm awareness workshop after personally struggling with the issue. Other members also chose to assist in whatever workshop they have identified with.
"We want young adults to self-identify with some of the workshops," Borden said. "The subject matter came from what we thought was the most important in the community."
MMHM consist of an introduction to meditation and yoga, talking about the importance of a positive outlook, learning about reiki to reduce stress, learning about the impact of sugar on health, a clouded thoughts session and discussing the stigma of mental health.
Sandy Stevens, owner of Time For Yourself personal training, is new to the Youth Summit and said she's grateful to have been asked to open up the event with a morning exercise and facilitate a MMHM.
"We'll do tabatta's in the morning. It's a great way to do it at all levels and you burn fat. It can also be a lot of fun," she said. "For the mini mental health moment, I'll be talking about how your body will hear what your mind and mouth says. It becomes a part of changing the way you're thinking and the way you look at things, or the way you look at a path. I live, breathe and talk about that with my regular clients as well and that's something you can use throughout life, not just for teenagers."
Stevens typically works with adults but interacts with teens during the summer and school breaks.
"They have a completely different outlook than adults and if you catch them early enough, you can get them moving and thinking differently, to take different approaches on the way that they're going to do things physically or mentally," she explained. "Once they have the idea of what to work with, that's something that can carry on a lot longer, and influence other choices that they make."
Instead of having three keynote speakers like last year, Michael Reyes will kick off the day with some powerful words of his personal journey through almost every social service program in the county. Being set up for failure from the start, Reyes will reveal how he grew up in Bennington and eventually achieved success, event organizer and UCS staff member Katrina Hollis said.
Last year, the Youth Summit brought in 54 out of an expected 77 attendants for eight workshops and four MMHM. This year, Hollis hopes to see 100 teens sign up and get 75 to attend.
"We went from eight to 12 workshops in just one year; we've grown," she said.
Subway will be catering the lunch for the summit along with a few homemade dishes. The day will promptly start at 9:30 a.m. with opening remarks followed by the keynote speaker and a morning exercise. At 10:30 a.m., teens will embark on their first MMHM with their first workshop directly after at 11 a.m. Lunch will take place at noon and then the second MMHM and workshop will follow. At the end of the day there will be a project and break-out session for evaluations and prizes.
For more information on the event or to register, visit the Teens4Change Facebook page or search for the event on eventbrite.com. The Mount Anthony High School is located at 301 Park Street in Bennington.
—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.