Some of you are following this project because you are passionate about natural and alternative medicine, some love herbs, some are coming from a spiritual standpoint, others are attracted to the idea of preventing substance abuse, some have their hearts in mentoring, and many are interested in a combination of them.
Regardless of why this project appealed to you enough to make you want to learn more, you are probably all wondering the same thing.
How does it all fit together, and
where are you going with this?
The first question I can answer, the second…depends on feedback from you…!
Through my various experiences in child, youth, and family studies, substance abuse prevention, mentoring, youth ministry, and herbal medicine, as well as other observations throughout the years, I have noticed that despite the different focuses, there are many common threads. There may be different aspects of wellness and development, but we cannot store them in silos. They are intricately linked and can’t be effectively addressed alone. Our bodies, our minds, and our spirits work together in a seamless flow. Each part strongly affects the other. When one isn’t working correctly or does not have the tools it needs to thrive, all the parts suffer.
This makes a comprehensive approach to the adolescent journey essential.
Mood swings, depression, anxiety, bullying, promiscuity, poor body image, pain, cramps, disease, unbalanced hormones, substance abuse, and other such risk factors must be addressed at their root causes, and those root causes just happen to be linked.
In the same manner, protective factors such as spirituality, faith, health, confidence, balance, and vibrancy are not isolated accidents.
To be fair, we have some excellent programs and resources for youth around the age of adolescence.
To name a few:
- We have confirmation classes as formal religious training.
- We have Sunday School and youth group to nurture faith.
- We have organizations like 4H for hands on learning and skill building.
- We have programs like D.A.R.E to address drugs and alcohol.
- We have programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters to provide mentoring opportunities.
- We have conventional medicine and pharmaceuticals for after the body experiences illness.
- We have organized sports to encourage physical activity.
Depending on the size and nature of your community, there are probably a great deal more. Most of these programs are in fact top notch, evidence based, and very productive.
However, we are still seeing disturbingly high rates of anxiety, depression, eating disorders, bullying, gang activity, violence, early onset of puberty, obesity, diabetes, food intolerance, and departure from the faith among today’s girls.
When I look at these trends and study these numbers, it tells me that our approach needs tweaking. We do so much that is good, we just don’t do it together.
Taking the social, spiritual, and physical all into account, it is clear to me that our young girls desperately need the comprehensive guidance of a coming of age experience.
I envision a program that focuses on the whole girl…the entirety of what it will take to move her from child to woman.
The shape that this takes will depend largely on the feedback that I receive. Your input will guide this project, and I thank you in advance for helping this take shape!
P.S. If you are interested in hearing more about this project, and adding your voice, please sign up here!