For over 2 years, a task force of Teachers, Therapists, School Counselors, Empowerment Coaches, Parents and Teens have worked with our Founder, Kathy Opperman, to create a Youth Empowerment Program we have aptly named "Empowering U". This has been designed as a spin-off of our Julia’s Joy Tween and Teen programs and our BE ME Kids and Courageous Kids programs which have been very successful in positively supporting and encouraging youth since 2016 at the Empowering U Center.
Empowering U is comprised of over 25 lesson plans to be taught in schools across the US, and hopefully around the world! A school or organization can teach all 25 or select the topics which fit their schedules the best.
Empowering U teaches coping skills, mindfulness, stress management tips, time management techniques, decision making skills, and resilience in children in Kindergarten to 12th grade. Our lesson plans are designed to teach healthy behaviors toward self and others, in addition to communication techniques to build positive relationships with friends, parents, teachers, coaches and others.
Topics include concepts of self-acceptance, self-responsibility, positive and healthy coping skills, self-confidence building and the one skill we believe is most important in today's youth-RESILIENCE- the ability to bounce back when life gets tough or doesn't go your way. Our goal with our Julia's Joy Empowering U Program is to help today's youth lead happy, confident and courageous lives!
As we speak to students in schools we visit, or to those who attend our programs, we hear a constant theme of stress, too much school work, not enough down time, social media drama that goes on into late hours of the night, feeling like they don't fit in, frustration with family drama, self-harm, anxiety, sadness, depression and more. We have found there are hundreds of local kids who suffer in silence.
Suicide is up 200% in ages 11-15. One in 3 teens has been diagnosed with a mental illness and video gaming is now a mental disorder. The youth today have more pressure due to social media, and because of the overuse of cell phones, they lack communication skills with one another and adults.
Pillars of Light and Love has been offering free workshops for children for the past several years and the themes of stress continue to be voiced among the youth and parents. Many youth and many parents feel helpless as they lack the skills and techniques to support themselves, their friends or their children through the stressful challenges faced by today's youth. School Counselors and Teachers have voiced similar concerns to us.
Our experiences with working with parents who have lost children to suicide or overdose, have further compelled us to create Empowering U. We need your help to bring it to schools. We need parents and school board members to work with us to find a way to get this curriculum into schools everywhere.
"It is not enough to just reach the children and teens who come to our free workshops at Pillars," says our Founder, Kathy Opperman. "We must teach every child, including the bullies, and the victims of bullies, who feel misunderstood. There are too many children who are suffering in silence and who think they are the only ones who feel alone in a crowded room. We must reach all the children. Empowering U is more than just a stress management program, it is about saving lives by preventing suicide, addiction and self-destructive behaviors."
To speak to Kathy Opperman about bringing Empowering U to your school, please email her at KathyOpperman@PillarsOfLightAndLove.org
We are happy to report that we piloted 16 of our 25 lesson plans to 50-65 students per week in the summer of 2019 and again in 2021. We are compiling feedback from students, parents and instructors and making recommended edits to our program!