A Powerful Look into Youth Empowerment – Part One

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“Synergy Youth Empowerment (SYE) courses give young people access to a lifetime of new possibilities. As a School Counselor in a 9-12 high school and a father of three adolescents, I know well the challenges and pitfalls facing today’s youth. SYE’s programs are completely unique in content, presentation, and power because participants have fun in an environment of experiential learning and social interaction. Students say they do more with less stress, feel more connected to family and friends, and feel more in control of their life after attending SYE courses. It’s great to experience the results in my school and in my home.”   Adam Hammond MA, MS

Age: 51

Occupation: School Counselor

Lives in: Poughkeepsie, NY

Family: Married, Father of 3 from 12-18

I came to Synergy because Christen B. told me about the amazing results she saw when teens were participants in the Synergy Youth Empowerment (SYE) program. I have been working with/for adolescents since I was one myself. I’ve run and been a participant in leadership programs. I’ve lead counseling groups for teens on dysfunctional families and grieving. I’ve been a Therapist in private practice and a School Counselor for the last fifteen years. I believe I’ve helped many get through either their day-to-day struggles or their bigger crises. In most cases, I had to wait for a problem to exist to help. Working with adolescents, I’ve seen repeatedly how the eventual crises can be rooted in attitudes or ideas learned years before and/or reinforced at home or in peer groups. Sometimes the crises aren’t large enough to open the student or the home up to change, leaving more pain in the future likely. Other times the issue is so overwhelming that abstract thought is too difficult to approach. I knew waiting for a problem was a highly inefficient way to support people, but despite many years of looking, thinking, and working, I hadn’t found a better way. SYE’s astounding results had me more than excited. I felt I had to experience the Synergy Adult Basic before I asked students to attend. I’m grateful for all the possibilities the Basic made clear in my life.

My life is good now, and based on my view prior to the Basic, my life was good then. The difference for me is before the Basic I believed I’d lived the best part of my life and each day was a challenge to be overcome.

I was living my life a little like sitting in an old recliner: it’s comfortable enough, but rather than resting for more energy it lulls one to sleep.

Post Basic I have the energy, will, and vision to make my life what I want it to be, and I’m eager to get started each day.

Starting any program at a school is difficult, and perhaps it should be since children are our most precious resource and a particular kind of fragile. That being said, SYE is so entirely positive it feels like it should flow into schools like water into a sponge. That hasn’t happened yet. Yet. I believe it will flow into schools. In less than a year and a half, we’ve had almost 100 adolescents go through the Basic. To me that’s an amazing achievement. Every one of those students has choices and possibilities they didn’t know existed before the Basic. The best part is they’re not changed without changing the world around them. As they see the possibilities in themselves they see them in others…

My experience bringing Synergy Youth to the school I work in, and now to students from other places, has been wholly unlike any other project I’ve tackled. The first difference is me. Prior to my Synergy experience, I approached every undertaking like a problem that I had to solve alone with an attitude of “it won’t be good enough.” Now I have the freedom to ask friends and family for support and they…no, we, get to be part of something great. I’m also much more able to focus on the positives that fuel me forward than the negatives that are impediments. The second difference is the program: Every student benefits regardless of age, socio-economic status, gender, sexual orientation, color of skin, or self-esteem. The third difference is the difference the program makes. It makes a big impact for participants immediately and then continues to make a difference. Many of the students who have participated are in my school, so I see daily decisions that are altered from those they made prior to their Basic experience. Even more, the conversations we’ve had as a result of their time in Basic are deeper and more productive. These conversations also show their experience continues to influence them in positive ways even a year and a half later.

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