With the new year upon us, we at FYI look back on 2019 with heartfelt fondness. We’ve been able to engage new team members to continue to effectively equip those we serve through education and encouragement, with an end goal of providing stability and hope to all families we serve. We’ve been able to establish an even more effective atmosphere of teamwork, helping families create a healthy, safe environment at home and become more mentally healthy. We’ve been able to address more of the issues that they are facing.
We asked each of our directors to give us a short synopsis on their program’s 2019 successes.
Real Life, Teen Choices: During the first 11 months of 2019, we taught at 36 schools in our six-county area and reached 5,898 students grades 6 through 12 with life-changing, empowering education. This year we have experienced quite a lot of change. We welcomed Rebecca Swearingen as the new Director and Jennifer Kennedy as a new educator. We’ve also seen an increase in the number of students who need to hear that they are loved and valued. Sadly, we have lost students to suicide at two schools and seen a huge increase in the number of students struggling with suicidal ideations. Talking with school leaders during the summer, we learned that vaping, mental health and consent continue to be issues that we can help address. As a team we are making a difference in the lives of teens one school at a time.
The Mentoring Program: We’ve reached 29 elementary, middle school and high school students with mostly on-on-one mentoring in 2019, but that is just one aspect of our program. We reached about 40 students during our first semester of teaching in Clark County’s juvenile justice system. We met regularly with eight more students through our after-school DEFY program at Tecumseh. And in the fall, Director Julie Driskill was given an office on the Tecumseh Middle School campus, which increased our consistent exposure to students there and has already resulted in a 10-session Thursday health class that she is teaching (112 more students reached). On-campus exposure like this and in the juvenile justice system have been among the exciting highlights of 2019. Julie is constantly building personal relationships at Tecumseh Middle School, with students regularly checking in with her, staff accepting and aiding her and administration giving her more responsibilities. Ditto at the juvenile system, where she is now seen as staff. Word of mouth is bringing more students to us while they are incarcerated and after they are released. DEFY continued to change lives, with a 2019 focus on eighth-graders allowing us to effectively address important, life-defining issues better.
The Parenting Network: We have been through some major changes this year at The Parenting Network. One of the big accomplishments is transitioning to one-hour long appointments at all three network offices. This has given all of us better insights and connections with the clients. Those connections are showing success with how we are able to better mentor and relate to them. Clients are opening up and trusting us more. There has been great feedback about our group classes and the impact they are making on our clients’ lives. Additionally, the Fairborn Parenting Network moved from a trailer to a new facility in the previous Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church’s Parish Center. The new location is such a warm and inviting space, and the clients love being there.
Gardening For Health: Giving about 1,300 pounds of fresh produce to people in need through the Park Layne Food Bank and being able to work there and see it helping people was a big highlight for our community garden. That and the family atmosphere that grew during the growing season among our community gardeners, then seeing it continue through the winter. The fellowship has really been uplifting for those in our program and has given us a great foundation to build from for 2020.