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Tuesday, 19 July 2022

Guiding Teens to Adulthood

Written by Heather Mayes

The teenage years are tricky to navigate. Big feelings and changing bodies can cause insecurities and uncertainty. North Star Youth Partnership, a program of Catholic Charities, gives teens the tools and education needed to successfully enter adulthood.

Tess Peterson first learned about North Star Youth Partnership when she was in fifth grade. An educator explained the basic concepts of puberty and development. Kits were distributed during the session to prepare young women for beginning their period.

The summer after fifth grade, Peterson was grateful to have that kit under her sink. She was able to use a pad they provided and read through useful information. It helped her feel prepared and more confident.

North Star Youth Partnership

Serving Maricopa, Yavapai and Coconino Counties, North Star Youth Partnership helps youth choose healthy lifestyle behaviors that prevent violence, gang activity, substance use and teen pregnancy through an array of youth leadership programs that build self-confidence and equip them with a ‘toolkit’ of life skills.

Peterson chose to get involved with North Star Youth Partnership when she was in high school. She joined Teens Taking Action and PAL (Peer Assistance Leadership). “The health educators running the programs were young, and I felt like I could relate to them,” said Peterson.

Teens Taking Action

PAL was composed of a variety of students, who likely would not have spent time together if it weren’t for the group. She was relieved and shocked that other people felt the same way she did, she wasn’t alone. The experience taught her how to hold herself accountable and how to empathize with others.

Teens Taking Action allowed Peterson the opportunity to develop an action plan and implement it with real-life experience. Peterson remembers feeling accomplished and proud of herself every step of the way. That support and guidance increased her confidence to meet the challenges of adulthood.

Lessons for Life

North Star Youth Partnership played an important role during various stages of Peterson’s life. From talking about body development to healthy relationships to responsible decision-making and leadership, she even chose to volunteer with the program as a college student.

That real-life, practical experience allowed Peterson to confidently seek a career in social work. “The staff, especially Diane DeLong, have stayed in my life as mentors for years, offering recommendations for college and jobs, answering questions about programming, and cheering me on throughout all my success professionally and personally,” Peterson explained.

Getting Involved

Her involvement in North Star revealed that not everyone starts from the same point in life. Unfortunately, many young people do not have the natural support system to develop ‘tools’ for their ‘toolkits.’ This awareness led Peterson to a passion for walking alongside others to help them develop life skills.

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