As a child, Sammy* loved to play the piano, to sing, and to paint. She lived in a one-parent home with her two younger brothers in a hectic city in Central America and she excelled in school.
However, all that was disrupted when it came to the light that she had been experiencing abuse for many years by someone close to home.
What ensued was a grueling judicial process where Sammy often felt alone, unsupported, and retraumatized.
She was desperate.
This is when she reached out to JovenSalud (TeenSmart’s virtual youth platform for support). Her teacher had introduced her to JovenSalud as a sixth grader and she remembered how easy it was to ask for confidential help online.
Sammy’s was a high-risk case and so TeenSmart staff worked immediately to support her to find the personal and psychological help she needed in her community.
But the next step for Sammy was to help her rebuild her sense of self and empowerment to move forward. Her TeenSmart coach said, “As hard as Sammy’s journey had been, she didn’t want that to define her whole life.”
So, Sammy and her coach started building up practices of self-reflection and growth that would help her to reclaim her life, to get back into her favorite activities, to finish her studies, and to celebrate the small advances along the way.
For example, her coach asked Sammy to report on 3 good things that had happened that day and Sammy responded:
Today, I went to class and understood what the teacher was saying, I finished a project that is due on Tuesday, and I didn’t have as many flashbacks.
Another day, Sammy’s coach asked her to visualize herself in her ideal career and she responded,
I imagine myself in an office, working with people. I know I have lots of career options. Law. Social work. Psychology. I know I want to help people.
And on and on it went. Life coaching. Self-reflection. Encouragement. Empathy.
Until one day, Sammy wrote in to say:
It’s been a few months since I last visited, but I came here to say thank-you. You’ve helped me through the hardest moments of my life. I want to tell you that I did finally graduate from the English course I was taking and tomorrow I’m going to start work with a company where I can put my skills to work. I’m your testimony that TeenSmart is important and really makes a positive difference in our lives.
1 in 4 teens will have experienced trauma by the time they are 16.**
And as crucial as the psychological and judicial processes are, without TeenSmart, Sammy might not have had the support and encouragement to visualize her life goals and achieve them.
TeenSmart’s coaching gave her strength and skills to keep moving forward. To finish her degree. And to get employed.
We are so proud of Sammy.
Join us in supporting her and thousands of other teens who are logging in every day asking for support.***
Make your donation today.
* The counseling service is confidential. Sammy is a fictional name.
** The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (Available here)
*** There have already been 4,708 requests for coaching on JovenSalud, an increase of 26% over 2020