YHELP! Arts Program: Encouraging Youth to Express Themselves

April 10, 2022

By Jamese Jefferson

The Founder of YHELP! (YOUTH HELP) Jamese Jefferson discovered a need for teens to become empowered and take control of their mental health. Mrs. Jefferson also believes that the youth have a voice and it should be heard. She is a strong advocate for teens to gain independence through transition and life skills related to self- advocacy, financial literacy, mental health, career development, and college prep. Jamese Jefferson earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Bowie State University in Psychology and her Master’s Degree from George Washington University in Human Development. She has over twenty years of professional experience working with youth and over fifteen years of professional experience working in the Mental Health field in various roles as a Mentor, Therapist, Counselor, Specialist, and Consultant. She was inspired to develop YHELP! as a platform to provide teens with key information to manage their mental health as well as to assist their peers with mental health challenges. Through YHELP! Mrs. Jefferson has cultivated relationships and partnerships with substantial organizations by establishing a successful mental health and life skills online presence and implementing community wellness programs that serve the youth population nationwide.

Pledge to Take Action

“The arts empower. The arts give a voice to the voiceless. The arts help transform American communities and, as I often say, the result can be a better child, a better town, a better nation, and certainly a better world. Let’s champion our arts action heroes, emulate them and make our communities everything we want them to be.” ~ Robert L. Lynch, President, Americans for the Arts

YHELP! believes that teens have a voice and should be empowered to express themselves. Art and Mental Health are one and the same and the arts can be a useful tool to help teens share their voice and their point of view. Most importantly, the arts can assist anyone and especially teens through healing. The arts give an opportunity for teens to develop a positive sense of self-esteem and formulate healthy coping skills. Sometimes teens have challenges conveying their emotions or needs, but can share them through their art.

YHELP! has taken notice of the powerful impact the arts can have on the overall well-being of teens and in turn, have developed the YHELP! ARTS program. YHELP! ARTS consists of weekly lesson plans, workshops, and collaborative projects that focus on self-esteem building, coping skills, and goal setting.

Some lessons include Positive Affirmation Bookmarks to encourage readers to believe in their selves and their dreams. Another popular project is the “Goals Bank Jar” where students decorate mason jars and write short-and long-term goals on post-it notes, and when they achieve their goal, they will remove it from the jar and add an additional goal. There’s also the Letter of Recognition project, where students create a collage in the shape of the first letter of their name and cut out positive words about their selves.

Also, we create personalized journals similar to a diary, where teens can express their feelings and thoughts at the beginning of the lesson, so they can take an inventory of their day and emotions and ask for support or assistance to resolve any issues if needed. The class schedule begins with a journal prompt in their personal journal to check in with their feelings and emotions and be referred to resources/support if needed, new weekly lessons, and at the end dedicate time to work on personalized projects to showcase at the end of the cycle. The personalized project could be a drawing, painting, poem, fashion, short story, song, or dance performance etc.

Most importantly the students will have a safe space to express their creativity. At the end of the program cycle, we host an event that includes a gallery of the students’ artwork and personalized project to show to their family, friends, and their community to instill a sense of pride in their Art.

Pledge to Take Action