Forty-eight teens from five-area schools, along with chaperones, recently participated in the first You Be You Leadership Summit. The summit was convened to share ideas and create steps for moving forward with the teen mental health campaign. The students came from You Be You participating schools Olathe North High School, Lee’s Summit West High School, University Academy, Turner High School and Valley View High School.
You Be You is a collaboration of the Greater Kansas City Mental Health Coalition (housed at Jewish Family Services) and Bernstein-Rein Advertising. The You Be You campaign was created in response to rising suicide rates among teens. You Be You spreads a message of self-acceptance through various materials such as posters, installations, social media filters and more. Implementation of the campaign in schools is led by students, in consultation with You Be You partners and school administration.
The leadership summit took place at Bernstein-Rein’s offices on the Plaza, providing a space for open discussion and creativity. In addition to students having the chance to meet and share ideas with each other and the creative team that developed the campaign. The day included a series of fun activities that encourage the students to think creatively about problems as well as to slow down and practice mindfulness. We hope that students will return to their schools with fresh ideas for launching the campaign in the fall of 2019.
The teens broke into small groups to talk about the successes of the You Be You program and create strategies to further efforts at their schools. Following the half-day Teen Summit, the students and chaperones returned to school to begin planning the launch You Be You campaign for the 2019-2020 year. Schools will be given new, refreshed materials, created by Bernstein-Rein. Coalition Coordinator Sarah Link Ferguson will work with each of the schools on programming to accompany the campaign, focused on self-acceptance and self-care.
The goal for the first two years of the You Be You campaign was implementing the program in as many schools as possible. During those two years, the campaign was implemented in 10 schools in Year One and 23 during Year Two.
“However, it became evident through our community work that the schools we worked with were largely suburban schools,” Ferguson said.
“While we would like to continue to foster the relationships we have with these schools, we would like to focus our attention on schools in Jackson County for Year Three,” Ferguson said. ”When we opened our JFS Brookside office, we did so with the intention of having a presence as an agency in Kansas City, Missouri and Jackson County. We would like to take the same approach with the You Be You campaign by offering it to schools closer to our Brookside office that might benefit from it and the accompanying mental health services we can provide at no cost.”
For more information about the You Be You Campaign, please visit youbeyou.us. For more information about the Coalition, please email Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org.