Blog /Transition Age Youth Writing Out! Part 1
One of the fantastic aspects to working at PEERS is our values. Although PEERS is not an age-concentrated organization, we have a fabulous transition age youth program called TAYi (Transition Age Youth Initiative). TAYi serves youth at risk for involvement in the mental-health care, foster care and juvenile-justice systems. In honor of our values, we have asked the youth in our program to blog about their experiences or what keeps them well. Thank you for taking the time to read our youths' posts!
TAYi Coordinator/WRAP Lead
As soon as I arrived to my first TAYi meeting, I felt welcomed and like I belonged. That was huge to me because prior to joining TAYi, I was getting in trouble in the streets with painting, stealing, etc. Basically I was up to no good, which caused my parents to yell and be mad at me. At the time, I hated them for not understanding my lifestyle. Now looking back years later, I understand what they were going through. If it weren't for TAYi, I would still be in what I like to call the “Dead End Lifestyle”. They kept me busy and made me feel important. They gave me jobs and opportunities to make money while doing what I love. One job that really stood out for me was making a mental wellness game board with my fellow youth that reflected my community. My job was to design and draw the game board on a huge canvas. They let me do whatever I want with it so I had a lot of fun. Months later after the completion, PEERS invited me to present the game in Orland, Florida at the national consumer conference Alternatives! It was an amazing experience. I’m really grateful I found out about the TAYi. I can honestly say if it weren't for it, my life wouldn’t be the same.
My experience with PEERS and the TAYi has been not only a rewarding experience, but a very fun experience. I have been given the opportunity to express myself and not feel judged or ashamed of whom I am. I’ve been given the opportunity to speak out about everyday TAY problems and ways that we want to change things within the system. As I continue to participate and share my story with peers, providers and consumers, I feel that speaking out has given me an insight as to who I am. And I will continue to advocate for TAY and anybody with mental health issues. I enjoy working with the TAYi and PEERS because the presentations we give have always been from the heart. The trainings we attend are very educational and interesting. I hope to inspire consumers and providers with not only our actions, but also our words. If I had not joined TAYi, I might not been so informed about mental health and events affecting the communities. I never thought I would enjoy working in such a field because I didn’t feel like I would be able to do my part. As I continue work in this field, my ultimate goal is to inform and change the system to something that doesn’t discriminate against mental health consumers.
My experience doing WRAP and recently becoming a WRAP facilitator wasn’t as simple as I had imagined. The whole process was tedious, long, tiring, stressful and irritating. But in the end, it is one of my greatest accomplishments to date. I recall filling out the application and thinking to myself, "This is going to be easy. I already know this and I got this in the bag." Needless to say, that was ridiculous thinking on my part to be so cocky. During the three-day training, I quickly found out that I had to make sure I was well and that my plan was working for me before I could even think about facilitating. After completing the three-day training, I once again said, " Oh five days of this is going to be easy. I’m well; my plan is good so how hard can it be? I’ll just do exactly what the facilitators did and not break a sweat." Well, once again that was one of the most stupid things I could have thought. On day one of the five-day training, I realized this was no joke. If I intended on completing the five-day training and starting my own WRAP group I better know how many sections there are, what are a trigger and wellness tools. So there I was again stuck in my head, thinking I knew it all and realizing I wasn’t even close. After having completed a total of eight full-day trainings and 25 mentoring hour, I wasn’t prepared for the butt kicking I got. I didn’t know that it would be so much work, that I would learn so much and that I would use all of that information in my day- to- day life. Having gone through all that work made me cherish my certificate because I worked hard to get it. Being one of the youngest facilitators certified made me prouder. All I have to say now is I did it !!!
Thank you for taking the time to read our youths' posts! We welcome comments :)