Chain Reaction Foundation
INSPIRING INNOVATIVE CITIZEN ACTION

Bridging the Gap: Chain Reaction’s Older Adolescent Program, 12 – 17 Years

by Margaret Bell | December 7, 2016

Think back to when you were an adolescent. For some, this is perhaps only a few years; for others it is maybe a little longer. How did you feel back then?

It is difficult to avoid the facts of adolescence. This is a time of great change, both inwardly and outwardly, both physically and psychologically. Because of this, adolescence can be a stormy sea which can prove difficult to navigate at times.

Everyone is different. Some may be able to chart their own course through this difficult terrain, while others may rely upon the support of family, a friendship group, or a particularly good teacher or social worker. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky; not everyone has this level of support to fall back on.

It Goes To Reputation

The trouble is, teenagers are not particularly well-thought of in society. The media presents us with plenty of stories of teenagers turning to crime or drugs, and the conclusion is usually the same; these are bad eggs, look at how these teenagers behave.

But is this fair? There can be no effect without cause, so what is it which has taken teens on a slippery slope? The chain of events which take us there – and the societal implications of simply turning our backs on troubled teenagers – are rarely explored, but they need to be.

Support Structures

No one deserves to be left behind. No one deserves to experience a lack of support – a lack of basic compassion and understanding – especially not at such a critical stage in their development. This is why the team at Chain Reaction deliver special care and encouragement to teenagers at risk of exclusion from society.

We operate our Older Adolescent Program for behavioural change to give teenagers the foundation they need to take the next steps towards a positive adult life. Removing support and dealing out punishment exclusion from society is simply counterproductive and leads to major problems further down the line.

Breaking the Cycle

The idea, here, is not to propagate a cycle of listlessness and disconnection, but to re-engage older adolescents in the society that they often feel set apart from. We work to improve self-awareness, self-esteem and a sense of belonging and confidence as well as valuing place in the wider community. A socially engaged person is happier, more optimistic, and one who is ready to give back to the community. We also assist in practical aspects of growing up – including developing interview skills, gaining vital qualifications, and conflict resolution is high on the list, as is anger management.

A team from the University of Western Sydney recently spent six months working with us, researching and evaluating the effects of our programs on families and on society at large. Their findings were impressive; they concluded that we were able to deliver a high quality level of social and emotional literacy to our program members, as well as highly successful skills for self-awareness and self-esteem building. The team also found that our members receive renewed sense of purpose, a sense of something both to gain and to give, immeasurable lifelong learning skills of great benefit, and a readiness to continue on their track towards a fulfilled adulthood.

Currently, we are able to accommodate around fifty teenagers in each program; with your help, we hope to be able to achieve great things for many more. It is with pride that we provide these services to residents of Western Sydney, and it is with excitement and optimism that we face the next step of our journey. 

Margaret Bell, AM - Founder and CEO of Chain Reaction Foundation.

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