In December, The Empower Youth Network kicked off the It Starts with You: Engage, Listen and Connect social media campaign. The goal of the campaign is to encourage adults in the Snoqualmie Valley to connect with our youth. It Starts with You: Engage, Listen and Connect will be paired with strategies parents and other caring adults can use to strengthen relationships with youth through Five Key Elements: Express Care, Challenge Growth, Provide Support, Share Power and Expand Possibilities developed by the Keep Connected, a Family Engagement Program by The Search Institute.
The It Starts with You: Engage, Listen and Connect campaign was developed in collaboration with community members from Snoqualmie Valley. Empower Youth Network hosted two focus groups inviting community members from the Riverview and Snoqualmie School Districts to review the data from the Community Perceptions Survey and help develop the campaign. The survey highlighted a gap between what adults in the Valley perceived verses what Valley youth reported with regards to having a caring adult to turn to. According to the Community Perceptions Survey, “85% of Snoqualmie Valley adults report talking to kids about stress, depression and anxiety.” However, according to the 2016 WA State Healthy Youth Survey, 31% of Snoqualmie Valley School District 10th graders and 25% of Riverview School District 10th graders do not feel they have a parent (or other adult) to turn to for help if they feel sad or hopeless.
Both focus groups agreed that closing this gap would be the main focus of the campaign, “We cannot wait for them [youth] to come to us; we have to start by building trust first, so that we can lay the foundation for bigger conversations, such as drug and alcohol use” (RVSD participant). The tagline It Starts with You: Engage, Listen and Connect emerged as the positive message to encourage all adults to connect with our Valley’s youth. Participants suggested that the positive messaging be paired with the “how” indicating that starting conversations with youth is challenging and many adults do not know where to begin.
It Starts with You: Engage, Listen and Connect will run through June 2019. Like us on Empower Youth Network’s Facebook page for more information and to stay connected to the It Starts with You: Engage, Listen and Connect campaign.