Washtenaw County 4-H Changemakers Youth Group Focuses on Teen Mental Health

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From Washtenaw 4-H Changemakers

The 4-H Changemakers is a group of Washtenaw County students (aged 13-18 years) who, since their formation in 2017, have been raising student awareness and helping educate their peers about youth mental health in their community. These teens have continuously flowed with the challenges of the times and continue to make a significant impact as they develop valuable leadership skills, make strong community connections, and prepare themselves for a lifetime of making positive change. See below for a summary of upcoming and ongoing activities as well as a few key events of the past years.

Virtual Jeopardy Trivia, Saturday, May 22, 2021 - The 4-H Changemakers are hosting a virtual Teen Jeopardy Challenge to help teens connect in a fun way this Spring. The online game night will feature teen-themed trivia and allow teams of up to 4 teens to compete for gift card prizes donated by SRSLY Chelsea for Bigby’s, Mike’s Deli, and Dairy Queen. RSVP a team now at bit.ly/teenjeopardy2021

(See flyer below for more details.)

Online Mental Health Exhibit, 2020 - 2021 - The group’s project year kicked off with a mental health awareness education campaign. As student leaders pivoted throughout the challenges of the lockdown conditions last Spring, the teens developed a Digital Storytelling Exhibit to help raise student awareness and educate their peers about what they can do (for themselves and others) regarding youth mental health in their community. The finished student projects can be viewed online at https://www.canr.msu.edu/washtenaw/washtenaw_county_4_h/4-h-changemakers

Mindfulness Resources, ongoing - At every meeting, the group shares resources, stories, tricks, and tips to discuss current stressors and coping skills. Throughout this year, the students concentrated on increasing awareness and destigmatizing mental health through social media and other socially distanced options, including participating in a number of two-part community service projects centered on self-care/mindfulness activities for the teens and a second step of service through giving. A few examples include: helping decorate peace doves for a community display, crafting valentines for seniors in assisted living, and writing thank you cards to health care workers.

Natural Helpers Teen Workshops, Fall 2018/2019 - Dozens of students spent many hours working to improve their listening, problem-solving, empathy, and boundary-making skills through a peer-to-peer program that uses games, activities, and role-playing. As a result, students bonded rapidly within small groups and returned to their routines and relationships with lifelong skills to help themselves and their peers.

Stomp Out Stigma
Awareness Event, Fall 2019 - Designed by the student group, this event featured a Chelsea High School alum and current stand-up comic who talked about their challenges with mental health in high school and beyond. As well as rotating, facilitated, breakout sessions focused on issues the teens had self-identified as priority concerns. The sessions were led by community leaders, including representatives from the UM Depression Center, Breathe Yoga, and Chelsea High School.

The 4H Changemakers would like to offer special thanks to National 4-H Council, UM Community Health Services, and Microsoft for working together to address youth mental health in our community.

For more information contact:

Washtenaw County 4HChangemakers - Jane Pacheco, MSU Extension Program Assistant janeden@sbcglobal.net 734-330-4497 facebook.com/Washtenaw4HTechChangemakers

Cover photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash

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