At Planned Parenthood, we strive to deliver programs that make a difference in people’s lives. That commitment is one of the reasons we began implementing The Wyman Teen Outreach Program (TOP®) a couple of years ago. TOP® is a youth development program proven to empower teens so they can lead successful lives and build strong communities. It’s also proven to reduce the rate of teen pregnancy, out of school suspension, and drop outs! We know this is a cool program, but who knew that a group of 8th graders would teach us this in a whole new way…
As part of TOP®, students select and participate in community service projects, and the 8th graders from the R.J. Hendley Christian School chose to repair the school’s physical education field. The reason they chose this project is because the field was unsafe and filled with debris; many students fell frequently or got cuts from the trash littered on the field. We know what you’re thinking, they’re kids, they want a better place to play, of course they’re going to fix the field! Here’s where these awesome kids will surprise you: these students are all leaving for 9th grade at other schools. This group of selfless teens committed their year-long project to making their school community not better for themselves, but for the students that would follow them.
Over the course of the school year, and with the help of the 6th and 7th grade TOP® participants, these students raised over $1,000 through car washes, Easter basket sales, and other in-school fundraisers. Through their hard work, and donations from Lowes, Home Depot, and Haliburton Landscaping, the school got a brand new field. The 8th graders learned about fundraising, landscaping, and teamwork but the key takeaway was that they felt empowered to make an impact. Moreover, they witnessed a community come together for a common goal.
The group’s facilitator, Sheree, was floored, “This was the first project idea the class came up with and they all agreed on it. They wanted to do something to help the little kids at their school. I was so impressed with their selflessness that I had to help make it happen.”
Music in video by Ryan Little