LEO program works toward youth resiliency
By City Times staff
MARSHFIELD/WISCONSIN RAPIDS – A Wood County program is working to assist local youth by exploring brain power, while preparing them for today’s challenges.
“We teach them different coping skills to help with stress, anxiety, depression; communication skills; it just kind of teaches them those life skills that they need to know in preparation for graduation or college, or life after that as well.”
The program was developed for youth from the concepts and tools created by Dr. Raj Nijhawan, founder of the Life Ecology Organization (LEO). It was then brought to Wood County through the Brighter Futures initiative, a Department of Children & Family grant.
“We received the grant at the end of 2018,” recalled South Wood County Program Coordinator Kathleen Wesolowski. “We started launching the program in January 2019.”
The program started with one coordinator for the nine high schools, as well as the various schools of higher education in the county.
“We realized that is a lot for one person, and we were able to secure funding for an additional position; then, we brought on Kathryn for covering the northern half of Wood County,” Wesolowski added.
LEO has two components; beginning with a series of interactive curriculum units, followed by an optional mentorship and exploration period with one of the coordinators.
“Our program is unique to Wood County; it is unique to Wisconsin; and it unique to youth specifically,” Wesolowski stated. “Dr. Raj, who has created the tools and the skills that the students build in the program has really only done this with adults, through corporations. What we did is we took and modified his curriculum and his information, with a lot of our own research and development, to create a really youth-centered program that is exciting, fun, and engaging, and focuses more on building youth resiliency.”
Spearheaded by Thomas Prete, the program was created through a partnership between CW Solutions, a private employment and training agency, and Wood County Human Services.
New program sessions will begin this fall and are open to Wood County youth ages 14-20.
The Marshfield programs will be held during after school hours, in two separate units at the Everett Roehl Marshfield public library.
The Rapids programs will run in four different units during after school hours, with three held at Lincoln High School and one at the McMillan Library.
For more information, contact [email protected] or call 715-540-0784, North Wood County, or 715-315-0347, South Wood County.