Your parents put a lot of pressure on you to get good grades, while your friends convince you to start drinking and smoking. You don’t know how to quit and your grades start to drop. Where do you go for help?
Canyon High School students had to answer this and other related questions Monday for Game of Life, an annual event hosted by the Santa Clarita Valley Youth Project, a nonprofit that assists at-risk adolescents, where students learn how to cope with stressful or crisis situations.
In the event at the Cowboys’ gym, ninth- and 10th-grade students spent their physical education classes teaming up with their peers to problem-solve real-life scenarios by visiting booths from local agencies that would assist in each particular situation.
Agencies that participated this year included the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley, the city of Santa Clarita, the California Highway Patrol, SCV Pregnancy Center, Strength United, Child & Family Center, San Fernando Valley LGBT Center, Samuel Dixon Health Center and The Way Out Recovery SCV.
“We decided to create our own community resource opportunity and invite colleagues that work with the same population and educate them head on,” said Kim Goldman, executive director for the Youth Project. “The stories we use are pulled from our files, which really allows for the participants to get a real-life feel and then a real-life response and resolution.”
Freshmen Jade Rodriguez and Celine Sanchez partnered together to solve their scenario on the topic of teen pregnancy. One of their stops was with Mark Fortier, SCV Pregnancy Center program director, who offered the young girls information about local services and support.
“There’s help if you’re ever in these kinds of situations,” said Rodriguez.
Alondra Alanis and her twin sister Valeria, who are also in ninth grade, were tasked with learning who to seek help from if someone is in an unhealthy relationship. Both said the activity was an active way to engage and connect students with resources close to them.
“This is important because sometimes there’s people who have a smile on their face trying to pretend as if everything’s OK but we don’t know what may be happening at home,” said Valeria. “There’s good, safe ways to have fun and these organizations can help.”
Physical education teacher Ceil Miller said, “There are many, many avenues of help for (students) in our community. These real-life scenarios show them that, ‘Hey, there is somebody that can help me. I know where to go now,’ from our school counselor to teen pregnancy, to LGBTQ.”
Monday marked the third and final Game of Life event at Canyon High School. The program started in 2011 and has since expanded to Golden Valley and Hart high schools. Goldman said the Youth Project may consider rotating high schools each year to hold the event rather than bringing it to multiple schools each year.