By AMANDA KIMBLE
STEPHENVILLE (May 28, 2016) – Bullying, shaming, peer pressure, potentially toxic relationships… life isn’t easy. Add to those outside influences the feelings and emotions experienced by young people and growing up can a difficult journey. But a local organization aims to arm youth with the tools needed, such as social skills, self esteem and confidence, to confront conflict, doubt and other personal struggles.
STARRY Counseling and its parent organization, Round Rock based Children at Heart Ministries, provide specialized services and resources that aim to “envision hope and a promising future for all children and families” with core values that put children at the heart of the Christian-oriented programs and services.
STARRY Counseling serves more than 30 counties across Central and North Texas and has a local office in Stephenville, where three free summer sessions are being offered this summer. Each are gearing at particular age groups and issues they face and based upon decades of counseling experience.
The sessions build upon STARRY’s mission of supporting children, youth and parents through services that protect, educate and promote strong families.
For 2nd-5th graders
While it’s the last camp on STARRY’s summer schedule, “STARRY Adventure Club: Learning of Social Skills” welcomes the youngest of each of the three camps. The program is for outgoing second-fifth grade girls and boys and will be held 10 a.m.-12 p.m. (noon) August 8-12.
Vicky Gonzalez, counselor and team lead at STARRY Counseling’s Stephenville office, said participants will discuss different age-appropriate topics daily, including conflict resolution, anger management, cooperation, listening and building up oneself and others. She said assisting youth in developing healthy self confidence, self worth and self esteem are goals of the program.
Gonzalez also said the group setting allows participants to bond while realizing their peers are confronting similar issues and emotions.
The curriculum encourages interactive activities, team work and general conversation rather than taking a one-one-one approach like typical counseling sessions.
“This gives youth the opportunity to learn foundational skills that even adults struggle with,” Gonzalez said. “They learn to have grace for self and an internal sense of self worth.”
For adolescents, 13-17 years
“Why Try: Teaching Social and Emotional Principles to Youth” takes the social skills curriculum to a higher level for young people in junior high and high school.
Gonzalez said the session encourages participants to question their motivation and why they should go on even after failure or when nobody believes in them.
“It deals with making choices and impulse control,” she said
Attendees are asked to consider the long-term impacts of taking the easy way out – a roller coaster ride that offers momentary thrills of dips and spins – fleeting moments of entertainment and gratification. On the flip side, they will also be asked to consider the longer journey, which may be made at a slower, more controlled pace but can offer greater, longer-lasting rewards.
For teen-aged girls
“Girl Power: Self-Respect Group for Adolescent Girls” invites girls in seventh-twelfth grades to tackle the sometimes impossible and oftentimes damaging images set forth by society.
Gonzalez said girls are broken into two groups – junior and high school aged – to address the developmentally specific issues facing them.
The session aims to encourage a healthy sense of self esteem, self respect and self worth while empowering young women to walk away from toxic relationships with peers and others. It also addresses topics like dating violence and having a positive body image.
Gonzalez said participants break down society’s ideas in terms of how they “should” act, dress and look and throw the word “should” out the window.
Meanwhile, girls will examine the roles they play and will discuss how to take ownership of those roles and be themselves to the best of their abilities.
“Developmentally, these age groups are trying to define who they are,” Gonzalez said, adding the groups will work on finding power and a sense of calm in their individual self images through activities and group discussion that examine personality traits to become aware of self and their individual space in the world.
For more information on the STARRY summer session, contact the Stephenville office at (254) 434-5232. Sessions are limited to 20 students per group, so parents and caregivers are encouraged to make their reservations early.
STARRY Counseling services are available at no cost to families with children up to 17 years old. Counseling services include individual, group and family counseling as well as parenting classes.
Counseling services are provided free of charge to families with children – birth to 17 years old – who need assistance resolving family conflict, eliminating truancy or runaway behaviors and avoiding delinquent conduct. The program helps families communicate effectively before residential placement is needed.
Other services include emergency shelter, foster care or adoption programs in times of family crisis and the SAFE Program for runaway and homeless youth.
Gonzalez said the professionals at STARRY Counseling strive to plug the gaps in the needs of the community. Groups, organizations and schools who need help addressing issues like bullying and dating violence are encouraged to consider organizing workshops. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the local office.