TEENPOWER Conferences Focus On Connection To Uplift and Empower Youth
By Jeremy Brown
At Youth Resources we daily challenge our student leaders to serve others with compassion, empathy, love and enthusiasm. We encourage them to step outside of their comfort zones in building relationships, in tackling unfamiliar projects and taking on responsibility they may feel ill-equipped for.
That’s where growth happens – outside of the comfort zone.
One of the most tangible examples of our students putting the aforementioned into action is at Youth Resources’ High School and Middle School TEENPOWER conferences. Over 400 conference participants and 70 local high school, college and adult volunteers often walk away from TEENPOWER calling it “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
While Disney World may or may not have that endearment trademarked, YR interprets the label as mission accomplished.
Being an introspective individual who has been involved with TEENPOWER for 12 years and served as the program coordinator the past two years, I’ve been asking myself: What makes TEENPOWER “The Happiest Place on Earth”?
The answer can be summarized in one word: connection.
As a volunteer staff, our theme throughout the trainings leading up to TEENPOWER was connection. Dr. Brene Brown defines connection as the energy created between people when they feel seen, heard, valued and loved. Our student leaders successfully create this atmosphere where their participants and peers feel a deep sense of connection, feel listened to, seen and loved, actually valued (perhaps the first time) – all while learning from national and local leadership educators. Even if it’s just a reminder for some, the effects are powerful.
TEENPOWER is a place where the color of your skin, where you go to school, who your friends are or your past decisions don’t define you. Our volunteer staff eliminates those barriers and fosters deep connection through the simple act of loving our teenage friends wherever they are at.
The result is meaningful friendships and a group of empowered teenagers armed with the necessary confidence and knowledge to wield their positive lights within their schools and community.
Sound like something you want your teen to be a part of? Encourage them to attend a TEENPOWER club meeting at their school, where connection through service is happening year-round. Not sure if your school has a TEENPOWER club? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll point you in the right direction!
Jeremy Brown is the TEENPOWER, Communications and Special Events Coordinator at Youth Resources of Southwestern Indiana.