Five years ago we started working with children and adolescents in the community to identify individual strengths. We do this with an activity called the “Tree of Strength.” The activity involves placing a personal strength on a leaf and placing it on our tree. Reinforced is the idea that what makes you strong, makes your family strong and in turn comes all the way out and makes our community a better place for all of us. If you have seen it or participated, our hope is that it brought a smile to your face as we have found it does for many.
On our first outing with the tree, the idea was sold to us when a young boy stopped by with a group of friends and family. He was known to have spent much of his elementary school days in the principal’s office. When asked to fill out a leaf, his initial response was, “I don’t got none.” After encouraging him to review our word bank to see if anything sounded like him, he eventually started saying things like, “yeah kinda…” and then “yeah”, and as he did a smile came across his face. He ended up filling out multiple leaves to place on our tree. And, we knew he now had a new view of himself; A view that is required to make good decisions for yourself, your family and your community.
This same focus on strengths is at the heart of the UNSTOPPABLE campaign that is being shared with teens. Only, it doesn’t ask them to place a strength on a leaf. It asks, “What is your Superpower?” Not all teens need an entirely new view of themselves but everyone can benefit from a focus on strengths instead of weaknesses. When you can see yourself as successful in one area, it becomes easier to visualize yourself as successful in others and commit to the work involved in making positive change.
Unstoppable is designed to be fun and engaging. It targets underlying risk factors (Ex: stress and poor planning) that lead to unsafe decisions like alcohol and other drug use. While recognizing that teens are at enhanced risk because of where the brain is developmentally, it intentionally operates with the belief that teens want to make good decisions for themselves.
We encourage you to ask your teen what they know about the campaign. Check out the website, http://alwaysunstoppable.org/, and share a little bit of the fun information you find there. Let them know that Unstoppable doesn’t happen overnight. It takes intention, motivation and knowledge to reach your potential. Then, suggest your teen check it out along with the social media links you can connect to from the website.