In late 2009 a girl I was counseling was sexually assaulted by her best friends dad. This girl really wanted a safe place where she could be around other teens who have also gone through hard times but she didn’t want it to be exclusive to sexual assault victims because she felt it would help her if she could learn to be comfortable talking about what she had been through with peers who haven’t had the exact same story. She also wanted other teens to have the same opportunity and get support from whatever they might be going through.
There where a couple other request that she had that she felt would make this exactly what she believed teens needed nowadays:
To be honest after my conversation with her I was like, ”Uh…Okay..sure!” Then I thought to myself how the hell am I gonna do that. But when looking at the hope that came to this girls eyes during this conversation there was no way i was gonna tell her no.
You see in the three months prior she had two suicide attempts, been to the psychiatric hospital and went from being an honors student and on the cheerleading squad to failing all of her classes, getting kicked off the cheer squad, dropped out of high school and started to abuse drugs and alcohol.
So I called a number of parents that trusted me with their teens and that had teens that had been through tough times. Then told them my idea and they were all very open to it and felt it could really be a good thing.
Fast forward to today the groups have done more than we could have ever imagined to help young people struggling from all sorts of life stress. The thing that I’m amazed by is that the group has constantly evolved in those years to meet the needs of teens right now. It doesn’t have to catch up to what is happening in their lives it is a part of their lives and therefore is able to be side by side with all the latest things that a young person needs help dealing with. The connections these teens make with each other are so powerful that it helps them innovate new ways to handle the on going struggles that they are faced with.
I counsel teens everyday in my private practice and I’m still surprised how much more i see and learn from just observing them in their own peer environment when they feel safe to be vulnerable and share their hardships. While at the same time giving support for others going through tough times. I say support because we focus on supporting each other and not trying to save one another. The last thing these teens need is to feel responsible to rescue one another form hard times.
David obtained a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from National University in San Diego. Since 1999 David had worked as a counselor, behavioral specialist mental health worker and therapist in group homes, crisis treatment centers, psychiatric hospitals, drug addiction facilities and schools for severely emotionally disturbed kids and teens. David has his own private practice, is the Co-Host of the Light The Fight podcast, and is the Executive Director of the Non-Profit Quit Trip’n.
Heidi Swapp is a busy wife and mom to 5 amazing kids ranging from 20-10 years old. She is the creative force behind her own brand of signature DIY craft and memory keeping products which can be found throughout the world online, in boutique and craft stores everywhere. Heidi has a personal passion to help parents find ways to help and support their kids with their individual struggles, and improve parent/teen relationships.
Don P. Newman has been the Chief Financial Officer of Headwaters Incorporated since December of 2010. Prior to joining Headwaters, Don served as Interim Chief Financial Officer or Vice President—Corporate Controller of Board Longyear Limited, the world’s leading integrated drilling services and minerals industry manufacturing company, from October 2006 to December 2010.
Edwin Garrette was born and raised in San Diego. He attended the University of Utah and was a member of the football team from 1992-1994. He graduated in 1995 with a Bachelor degree in Sociology. Upon graduation, he returned to San Diego and worked at a local group home for disadvantaged youth. He was hired by the San Diego County Probation Department two years later. He was a juvenile probation officer for two years working extensively with troubled youth. He was hired by San Diego Police Department in 1999 and has been assigned to the following assignments: crime suppression team, SWAT, juvenile services, and community relations. Currently he is a Police Sergeant in charge of downtown San Diego. He has been recognized by the San Diego Padres, San Diego Chargers, and the San Diego Police Department for his outstanding service and leadership to the children of San Diego.
Fisi Moleni, LCSW, received his Masters Degree from the University of Utah. He has worked with LDS Family Services for over 11 years, focusing on treatment for pornography addition and other mental health issues. He had a very diverse experience in working full time with the Asian Association where he focused on substance abuse treatment as well as domestic violence.
Brandon has been attending the support groups since the summer of 2012 and became a mentor in 2014 after noticing that his influence could assist others to avoid the challenge that teens face. He has been trained with AFSP administered suicide prevention training He is currently the Executive Assistant and works directly with Mr. David Kozlowski. .