Actions

'Teen Talks' encourages kids to come together, share feelings safely

Teen suicide, stress, anxiety
Posted at 7:37 AM, May 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-29 22:35:22-04

PHOENIX — It may not also be an easy thing to get your teenager to express how they are feeling. Increased isolation and the uncertainty of the future can lead to a lot of anxiety, depression, and increase the risk of suicide among young people.

One Valley non-profit knew they had to act quickly out of necessity to ensure no teen fell through the cracks while staying at home.

"Teen Talk... it was developed quickly," said Tomas Barraza. "I'm talking like, the stay-at-home orders... schools being canceled were Monday and by Friday, we had our first Teen Talk.

Barraza is a prevention specialist with notMYkid, a non-profit in the Valley that works to spot and stop behavior in our children that could lead them down the wrong path. Teen Talk is through their amplifi(i) program.

"Kind of a space that we hold virtually where students can just be open with whatever they're going through...whatever they're feeling," Barraza explained.

They have themes when they meet every Monday around 4 p.m. and topics to get conversations going. However, they also have activities to make it all fun.

"I don't know if you've seen the cooking show, 'Chopped', but we had a bunch of teens hop on there with either their parent in the kitchen or by themselves and we basically did like a presentation judge on the food," explained notMYkid prevention specialist Taylor Garrey. "And we just had a blast!"

Last week, they held a virtual graduation ceremony to show support as a group for the teens who missed out on those celebrations for middle school and high school graduation.

"To see the teens' faces light up that they have support like that in this time of need... nothing compares to that," Garrey said.

These two prevention specialists tell the Rebound Arizona, they are hearing from a lot of teens with concerns about what is to come with the coronavirus pandemic. Teen Talk works to work through those feelings as a team.

"Other coping skills...other ways to deal with whatever they might be going through and that's the biggest thing that we can do," Barraza said.

It is all about showing these young people that they are not alone. There are other teens nationwide that are going through the same thing. They get to actually see and hear that through this program.

"They get to find similarities that they have," Barraza said.

There is a vetting process that is a part of the program before a teen can enter the Teen Talk. NotMYkid wants to ensure the space remains safe for teens participating.

If you think this is something your child can benefit from, you can contact notMYkid and amplif(I) at 602-652-0163 or email programs@notmykid.org.

The quickest way to reach out may actually be through the amplifi(i) Instagram account by sending a direct message. To view their profile, click here.