Why We Do This Work
Founder, Community Engagement Organizer
I began to struggle with addiction in one form or another—smoking, drinking, recreational drug use, prescribed drug use, or self-medicating starting at age 12. For me, it was far easier to develop the habit of drinking than it was to develop the habit of abstaining.
My story was that I was not a good student, that I wasn’t smart. Because I didn’t have healthy coping mechanisms, it got worse into adulthood — I felt depressed and undervalued; I didn’t see my own worth. Even after achieving some academic and professional success, I continued to struggle with my issues. It took me years to admit I was an alcoholic.
That’s when I discovered the Institute for Generative Leadership (IGL), an organization committed to bringing leadership skills to adults through stress physiology and self-care practices. I was able to understand how I was getting so lost in everyone’s expectations that I’d lost my sense of self.
We’re told from a certain age what we’re good at and what we’re not good at. The more I saw that, the more I was able to discover what it was I really care about. For me, it’s community, it’s people. That’s what was missing.
I’ve been a practitioner of this methodology now for 20 years and have been able to overcome issues associated with ADHD, bipolar disorder, social anxiety, and addiction. I’m motivated by having healthy people in healthy organizations.
At some point, I asked myself how I could become a part of a community or movement that helps young people with similar challenges, substances or otherwise. There is an increase in depression and anxiety among younger populations which can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms. However, most don’t have the skills to navigate stress and pressure because it is not yet built into our public schools’ curriculum. So it has become my mission to be of service to young people by offering them coping practices that I wish I had had during that time.
What I love about Lead Yourself Youth is the way we are able to normalize adolescent challenges and open a forum to discuss them. We talk about the thoughts and emotions that arise and the physical and psychological ways these challenges show up.
We all have beliefs and stories about striving to “be better.” These can be isolating and toxic without honest conversation about doubt, fear and grief. I want to create a safe space for these conversations.
Sometimes we need to remember that we are all connected, in the sense that we all have experiences that cause pain, fear, anger and anxiety. Becoming aware and practiced observers allows us to exit default mode and enter new-possibility mode. From that place, so much is possible!
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We help youth learn how to navigate real life situations & challenges, both internal and external.
We offer workshops and tools that build proactive stress and anxiety reduction skills for adolecents and those who empower them. The curriculum integrates social, emotional, and somatic learning techniques in a supportive and caring environment. These tools help participants develop healthy self-care, self-awareness, empathy and coping mechanisms.