The Teen Outreach Program is returning to serve students in the after school programs at Lincoln Heights and Meadowview middle schools, and sixth through ninth graders at Miller Boyd Alternative School.

TOP is an evidence-based positive youth development program that is being successfully replicated in communities across the country, creating positive outcomes for teens. The program helps teens achieve educational success, develop healthy behaviors and relationships, and exhibit life and leadership skills. TOP’s curriculum contains lessons on character building, team building, healthy relationships, healthy choices, bullying, alcohol/drug, and other risky behaviors intervention/prevention, and goal setting for a successful future.

Community service-learning is an integral part of the program. Based on the community’s need, students plan and carry out service-learning projects. These projects help and strengthen our community and have a positive effect on students. Students show an increase in many skills like communication, problem solving, decision making, critical thinki=ng, leadership, and working well with others. Young people discover that they can make a difference and become more civically minded leading to the development of good character, good citizenship, and a sense of purpose. Often times community service-learning leads to self-discovery, self-confidence, and self-efficacy.

TOP believes in partnering with parents for better success. Events such as parent education training sessions called “Coffee and Conversation” are held regularly and features guest speakers presenting on a variety of issues facing today’s teens.

Topics presented in the past include suicide prevention, dangers of vaping, good study habits for getting better grades, and keeping children safe from human trafficking.

Plans are underway for this year’s topics and will be posted soon. Opportunities for parents to volunteer and to enjoy fun activities with their teens are available. The program is free.

For more information on TOP or to get your child enrolled, contact Karen Gaby at 423-581-5420 or Kelsie Price at 423-307-4231.

The Teen Outreach Program is a project of Douglas-Cherokee Economic Authority, Inc., in collaboration with Hamblen County Schools. TOP is funded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.