Teen girls find inner strength in overflowing support
Difficult home lives, emotional pain, feelings of abandonment, and the need for healthy relationships have created strong bonds among a group of girls at Watervliet High School.
One of the girls, Katlynn, was grappling with her parents’ divorce, and her grades were dropping. “It was hard because I didn’t live with my mom at the time and I lived with my dad, and my dad wasn’t really part of everything I did in school because he was so focused on the newborn he just had. So I was really, really struggling,” she says. But Club H2O changed all that.
Club H2O, a United Way-funded program, is a professionally led, therapeutic support group for adolescent girls, ages 13-18, that seeks to increase self-awareness and self-esteem, teach them how to set and maintain healthy boundaries, and learn healthy coping strategies to weather the storms of life.
It is one of many programs by Well of GRACE Ministries, based in Stevensville, designed to educate and encourage girls and women to live life with potential, purpose, and possibilities. The name was inspired by the story of the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well and received grace.
Soon after Katlynn joined Club H2O, she says “my grades starting going up because I was able to talk to someone when I needed it. They teach you coping skills for when I have depression or anxiety or anything like that.”
What’s more, the girls look out for each other. When Katlynn received a text message from another Club H2O member that talked about suicide ideation, she immediately shared it with the Club H2O group leader, Mary Andres, who connected with the teen in crisis, worked with the school’s guidance staff, created an emergency plan, and made sure the teen received appropriate services. Her network of support helped save her life.
Andres says of Katlynn now: “She has this great love of life after going through a dark time. We were there for her to help her transition from middle to high school.”
“You don’t have to do this alone,” says Andres. Club H2O is empowering Katlynn and her friends to become thriving, happy young women with bright futures.
Learn more about the work United Way of Southwest Michigan is doing in Education at uwsm.org/education.