SBS Stories
May 3, 2015
Over many years Carol volunteered at a ropes course to teach teens to learn to trust themselves and it is okay to trust certain adults. These children had been abused, abandoned and neglected and were taken away from their parents or guardians. In working with Laura, who ran the ropes course, and other volunteers we were able to get the children to go from saying no or I am scared (of a specific activity) to with constant reinforcement able to get the children not only to personally perform a specific activity.  The teens helped the other kids they did not personally know become successful also. Helping children to go from closed off and not wanting to participate to giving the high five, hugs to volunteers, and saying comments like,” I did it, I did it” led me to feel that teaching kids relationship and confidence skills is something they could take forward the rest of their lives.
One day in May, I went to the bank to make a deposit. The teller asked which account and noticed one of the accounts is Success Beyond School.
“What is Success Beyond School?” He asked.
I explained we are a nonprofit that teaches young adults aged 12-25 life strategies and skills they need to be more successful in life.
“Wow!” He exclaimed. “I had just last night sat down with my parents to ask how to obtain information on certain skills. The schools were slowly removing these types of skills when I was in high school, and I am really worried about my brother because now they have removed almost all of the life strategies and successful trainings out of schools. How is he supposed to make it in the real world today?”
I told the young man, “That is the very reason we have started this organization. Life is hard enough when you are prepared for life. Now since the schools have removed so many basic life strategies it will make it very hard on as much as 80% of kids and young adults to be as successful as they could be.”
“We really need what you’re doing,” he responded. “Thanks for starting this.”
As soon as you hit puberty, you want to start being treated as an adult. Truth is, even at 22 I still don't feel like an adult, because I don't know how to handle or do many "adult" things. When my sister was a freshman in high school, my school required all Freshmen to do a career fair, but it wasn't a normal career fair. Each Freshman would draw a card for a certain job with a set income per month. They would also draw cards for bills and different costs at the booths around the room. They even had a fake check book and had to write checks to each booth or receive a check from a book. It was a nice way to give a reality check to immature teenagers.

Unfortunately for my grade and all grades to follow, there would be no career fair. Even in middle school, I felt like an opportunity was stolen from me. I just didn't realize how important a reality check at that age could be.

Learning life lessons early on is better than having them sneak up on you in actual adulthood. My mom is still teaching me about conserving my identity and card information, bills, and even loans. I wish I had been more prepared for adulthood and had more opportunities to learn life lessons like my sister. Algebra and history are great topics to know about, but what about “life after school” knowledge? Honestly I feel like schools care more about ISTEP testing and GPAs than teaching students about how to get through life mentally and financially. Luckily I have a very supportive family that gives me tips and will help me financially when I mess up.

Recently, my 16-year-old niece and I were discussing what she wants to do after high school. She mentioned wanting to be a social worker, because they make a lot of money. I calmly let her know that social workers have to have a Master’s degree to be able to get a job, and that social work doesn’t pay nearly as well as she thinks.
“Great,” she huffed, crossing her arms. “Now what do I do?”
“Think of it this way,” I said. “If money was not a necessity, and you didn’t have to worry about making a pay check, what would you want to do every day of your life?”
“Wow,” my niece whispered. Louder, she commented, “That’s a great way to look at it.”
“That’s what we’re doing with Success Beyond School,” I said.
“Aunt Shannon, I think what you’re doing is great!”