GAP! Program in the Middle School – $5,000
The Community Foundation of Teton Valley was honored to award this Competitive Grant to the Education Foundation of Teton Valley to assist young female students in gaining valuable life tools. The Foundation strongly supports projects that focus on educating Teton Valley youth, especially programs that provide support for emotional development and confidence building. Their application also leveraged a partnership with GAP! in Jackson Hole that has offered this programming in Teton Valley and Jackson for many years.
According to a Center for Disease Control report, teenage suicide rates have increased by nearly 56% from 2007 to 2017. The rate of 6.8 deaths per 100,000 people between the ages of 10 and 24 has jumped to about 10.8 deaths. In Idaho, the rate is 13.7 deaths per 100,000. Mental health experts have little explanation for what is driving this increase, making it difficult to know how to provide early intervention. Teton Valley has faced a rash of teen suicides before and it is something we never want to experience again. One factor to consider is how girls are engaged at school and with others. Many girls may not have access to afterschool activities, especially if they don’t participate in sports. Within our school district, only 40% of our students play sports. There is a need for a program that can provide community and connections to those girls who may otherwise not have another outlet. Through social-emotional learning and theme-based programs such as GAP!, girls discover their authentic selves, use their voice, navigate conflict, become empowered, embrace brave over perfect, and become connected in our community.
The requested funds will be used to pay a GAP! staff member to oversee and implement a nine-week session for girls in grades, 6 through 8. The sessions will be held after school, once a week during the trimester. During these after-school meetings, the staff leader will facilitate activities that promote skills in the form of highlighting personal integrity (who you are), self-awareness (how your actions affect others) and your agency (how you make a difference).
In addition to the afterschool programming, the Education Foundation of Teton Valley will continue to sponsor a three-day workshop offered to rising 6th-grade girls (those in 5th going into 6th grade in the fall).
The GAP! program will provide a positive atmosphere for middle school girls to learn who they are and lift each other up while developing the skills and tools they need to successfully navigate academic, social, athletic, and home stressors. Hard issues will be talked about in a safe environment. The girls are able to open up, address issues that are facing them, receive advice from their peers and work through problems during the meetings, and most importantly, after the meetings at school and at home. The Foundation is so excited to support a program that assists in giving girls the tools to have a voice and use that voice is an integral part of their life moving forward.