SYF is important.
Monday September 23rd 2013, 3:31 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I don’t know who I would be if it wasn’t for SYF*.

SYF was the first place I saw kids who didn’t seem to care how they looked, and didn’t seem to care what anyone thought of them. SYF was the first place I saw girls who didn’t shave their legs; I was shocked and curious and intrigued. SYF was the first place I felt like I fit in, no matter how I dressed, no matter what I looked like. At SYF I felt safe, and that allowed me to become the person I am today.

Every Sunday, high school students from around Westchester come to a church** in Scarsdale, talk about how their weeks have been, introduce themselves, and go over the SYF rules. One rule is no drugs. One rule is not to be late. One rule is to “speak from the eye” and not to generalize or stereotype. One rule is that you can’t go to SYF and tell your parents you’re elsewhere (or tell your parents you’re elsewhere and be at SYF). Then, the group breaks into smaller groups, where everything is kept confidential, and discuss the weekly topic: anything from communication, to dreams, to gender roles, to change, to religion. Then the “big group” gets back together, plays a game, and breaks until the following week. There are two weekend retreats every year, and one lock-in, as well as other special nights and events. There are also parents nights, where SYF parents can come participate and see what SYF is all about. There are always adult advisors present, and everything is supervised.

Every high school kid needs a place like SYF.┬áIt’s a place where high school kids can be who they have been trying to be, without fear of rejection. Without fear of judgment. SYF is a place where kids can safely experiment with their identities. It’s a place where kids can meet teens from other high schools in the area, and learn from other perspectives about issues that are important to them.

Everyone who went to SYF agrees with me: SYF changes lives. I feel like most SYF alumni can’t quite imagine what high school would’ve been like without SYF. And, being an SYF alumna means you’re part of a network. If I meet an SYFer, I know they are a friend; I know they get it.

Basically, we are low on kids! If you know any high schoolers who could use a support group, think about sending them to SYF. Or, rather, if you know any high schoolers at all (they all need a support group like SYF), think about it.

Senior Youth Fellowship
7pm-9pm every Sunday
1 Heathcote Road, Scarsdale NY

*Senior Youth Fellowship (SYF) is a nondenominational peer support and enrichment group for high school students in Westchester. This year, I am an advisor! If you’d like more info or you know someone that should come to SYF, tweet me @sammylif, message me on facebook, email me at lifson.samantha@gmail.com, or comment on this blog post.

**SYF meets in a church, but is not religiously-affiliated at all. SYF started over 50 years ago as a fraternal church group, but has evolved drastically. Most SYFers today are “alternative” kids — but the whole point is that everyone is welcome.


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