Washtenaw County 4H is working to address youth mental health in our communities. The Washtenaw County #4HChangemakers student group is always open to new teens 13-18 looking to help make change. The group is currently meeting virtually via Zoom/other online platforms. For more information or to get involved please see contact information below:
Washtenaw County 4HChangemakers - Jane Pacheco, MSU Extension Program Assistant
Washtenaw County 4-H Changemakers Youth Group Focuses on Teen Mental Health
The 4-HChangemakers is a group of Washtenaw County students who, since their formation in 2017, have been specifically trying to raise student awareness and help educate their peers about what they can do (for themselves and others) regarding youth mental health in their community. We have been working with community stakeholders like the Chelsea School District, SRSLY/St. Joe Chelsea, the Chelsea Library and the new Youth Mental Health Community Collaborative on a variety of initiatives. Some of our most recent work is highlighted below:
Natural Helpers Teen Workshop (video)- This free, facilitated, two-day training took place over Thanksgiving vacation November 2019. Fourteen students spent over 21 hours working a thoroughly vetted peer to peer program designed to use games, activities and role playing to improve their listening, problem solving, empathy, and boundary skills. Students bonded rapidly with the small group and returned to their respective lives/relationships with new skills which help both them and their peers through challenging times.
Ongoing Digital Storytelling Campaign (Click on links below to see finished projects from Summer 2020 - there are 7 final projects)- Teens use digital storytelling to increase awareness and destigmatize mental health through social media and (now virtual) public exhibits. Local and online experts share knowledge of tools to help tell stories: photography, graphic arts, videography, podcasting, interview techniques, meme making, and more. The group continues to explore innovative ways to humanize stories and share information with their peers.
Mindfulness Activities and “How-To” Tech Training - Since the Covid-19 pandemic has forced our group to concentrate on online gathering, we’ve been working on a few additional projects that build off of previous work collecting/sharing mindfulness exercises and emerging needs. We continue to work on videos explaining short mindfulness activities other teen groups could use. Additionally, the group has been working on learning how to teach seniors simple tech skills to play games and communicate with loved ones online. One project we worked on was building a protocol for seniors to Zoom and set up a shared card game of Go Fish. The sky is the limit for these teens and they are eager to share what they are learning.
Stomp Out Stigma Awareness Event - A free event was held at Chelsea District Library in Fall 2019 and was designed by the student group to feature a CHS alum/stand-up comic, talking about their challenges with mental health in high school and beyond; as well as rotating, facilitated, breakout sessions focused on issues the teens self-identified as priorities. The sessions were led by community leaders including representatives from the UM Depression Center, Breathe Yoga, and Chelsea High School.