Checking In With: You Matter

It’s Testing Phase, and we’ve been making the rounds to participate in our Youth Challenge cohort’s events throughout Chattanooga. We’ve talked about these solutions for 6 weeks. Now we get the chance to see them in action.

At the Northside Neighborhood House, Jasmine Ware and Logan Taylor leads a group of 11–15 year-olds through a variety of activities that develop the skill of positive self-talk. Bullying is all too common for this age group, so good habits around positive thinking are key to maintaining self-confidence.

Jasmine is looking to cultivate these students’ comfort with themselves, optimism about the future, and confidence in making positive life decisions. She’s also seeking to make an impact on the kids’ outlook on their community and their desire to influence peers positively. During Week 3 of Incubation, she phrased it this way: “How might we help the students acknowledge their “now” in order to create steps that push them into accepting and becoming more confident in their life paths?”

Each week, the group declares a variety of positive statements in unison: “I am beautiful.” “I am capable.” “I am smart.” What started out as a reluctant exercise for some at the beginning has transformed into an activity that everyone participates in enthusiastically.

“The process over the past month has been beautiful,” Jasmine said, “The transformation in the kids’ comfort level has been amazing.” During one meeting, each participant stood in front of his or her own mirror and practiced declaring personal positive statements.

You Matter’s central project is a vision board, or a piece of large cardboard on which pictures and words are arranged. “Before bringing the vision boards in for them to place things on them,” Jasmine explained, “I drew the one thing that makes them light up when they talk about it in the center of the vision board. For example, Luis loves fishing. He talks about fishing often, so to remind him of all the avenues he can possibly take with a fishing career moving forward, I drew a fish in the middle of his vision board.”

Moving forward, these vision boards will serve as tangible reminders for each student to keep up the challenging yet important work of focusing on their dreams, goals and gifts. Or as Jasmine put it: “I am so excited to be able to leave them with something they can keep while journeying through their lives that reminds them that they can do ANYTHING!”