You May Be Surprised to Know…
Many of our Children Are Struggling
Bainbridge Island, Washington, is a community of 23,000 residents located just 30 minutes by ferry from downtown Seattle. We are known for our exceptional schools, natural beauty, community engagement, and outdoor lifestyle. Of the 6,600 families residing here, only 5% live below the poverty line. Many are very affluent. Our children are high achievers, with more than 90% going on to colleges or universities.
On the outside, it’s looks like our children are thriving! But in reality, many are struggling socially and emotionally. Like communities across the U.S., young people feel an intense pressure to succeed by today’s unrealistic societal standards. In student’s own words, “You must be a super human!” Whether it’s pressure to achieve high grades, get into just the “right” college, or feel accepted by peers and family members, our children’s emotional health is of great concern. Their struggles often take a big toll, producing negative health outcomes, including depression, anxiety, and higher than average rates of drug and alcohol abuse.
We have felt challenged by what Island youth have been saying for many years, seeing little or no change over a decade. We’ve tried saying “no” and educating our kids about mental health and substance abuse.
Changing course in 2014, the Bainbridge Healthy Youth Alliance was formed to better reflect current knowledge and thinking in the field of positive youth development.
We’re saying “yes” to building healthier relationships with our children, to involving them as partners, and working as a community to nurture research-proven core abilities that help youth lead meaningful and fulfilling lives. We want students to be valued for who they are, not just for what they achieve. We want all children to have the abilities to become caring family members, innovative workers, ethical leaders, and engaged citizens in a 21st century global society.
As Margaret Wheatley so wisely said, “There is no greater power for change than a community discovering what it cares about.”
Bainbridge Island has made that discovery.
We care about kids’ hopes and dreams.
The solution to our challenge is not the exclusive responsibility of parents, schools, individual leaders, or policies.
The solution rests with all of us.
Together, we plan to help youth develop to their full human potential. This is our challenge and our opportunity!