Teen Esteem's founder and executive director receives Diablo Magazine's Threads of Hope award:
Story of IMPACT (Chris Crawford, Board Member):
Linda (Teen Esteem's executive director) suggested I attend one of their classroom presentations. I went to a local high school a few weeks later and sat in the back of the room of a 9th grade health class. Teen Esteem had a 60 minute presentation with 2 speakers.
The engagement these speakers had with the kids was surprising. All eyes were front and center. No distractions. Even though they were older, they could totally relate to the kids. When one of the speakers asked a series of questions, my eyes opened wide.
“How many of you know a classmate in this school that consumes alcohol on a regular basis?” Almost all hands went up.
“How many of you know a classmate in this school that takes illegal drugs, or someone else’s prescription drugs, on a regular basis?” Almost all hands went up again.
“How many of you know a classmate that is engaging in sexual activity on a regular basis?” Almost all hands went up.
I expected a number, but not almost all. Even if they knew someone, I figured they wouldn’t raise their hand. But they did.
Then the speakers kept going and instead of lecturing the kids, they tried to open their eyes. They talked about self-respect and about the consequences of choices. They asked if the kids thought about the impact of their choices on the achievement of their goals. They talked about peer pressure and a lot of other things. Never in a lecturing tone. Just a conversation. It was powerful. But that wasn’t what got me hooked.
When I got home, my 10th grade daughter was home and I said, “you will not believe what I experienced today. I watched a presentation to 9th graders and they asked these questions…” Before I could finish my sentence, my daughter finished it for me. She said, “Dad, this is what is going on, this is real. I know it. I knew it already. The person who doesn’t know it's you.” I was floored.
I had and still have a great relationship with my daughter. But that day, I realized that I was not paying attention to what was going on in my own neighborhood, my own community, my own household. I decided to get involved and to support Teen Esteem with my time and my money. This is an organization that impacts our kids and our community for their entire life. And each kid, once impacted, will impact others too. That is legacy building. That was 5 years ago, and my heart still aches and my eyes still well up even just thinking about that day."