Showing teens they can be positive

School club helps students cope with problems

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published June 12, 2013

WARREN — Being a teenager isn’t always easy.

Dealing with relationships, family problems, academics, an after-school job and bullying can cause anxiety, stress or low self-esteem. Worrying about such issues can often make it difficult to concentrate on academics and can even trigger depression.

One local teenager has dedicated herself to help teach others how to cope with such issues.

Regina High School junior Beth Mathews reached out to her classmates this school year when she created the Positive Teens Club. Mathews’ goal was to give her classmates the tools they need to deal with problems.

“I think they’re not mature enough to handle the situation. They don’t know the right or wrong way to handle something,” Mathews said. “I wanted to show the girls to keep going. Just because it’s rough now doesn’t mean it’s always going to be rough.”

Regina is an all-girl Catholic High School. Mathews got the idea for the club after reading “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” by Sean Covey, which she finished in two days.

The book covered various topics, including being proactive, goal-setting, understanding and positive-thinking. Mathews brought what she learned in Covey’s manuscript to the 25 students who joined the club.

The Positive Teens members met once a week for about an hour over an eight-week period. Regina counselor Amy Dulgerian served as an advisor, and the students focused on a different “habit” each week. 

During one session, for instance, the students used balloons to represent a different issue they might be experiencing. The objective was to balance each balloon and if they fell to the floor, it meant “too much stress,” Mathews said.

That’s when you ask for help, ninth-grader Christina Byrd said. “You can’t do it alone.”

“A teacher or a good friend could help you,” ninth-grader Madeline Lorio said.

Another positive that came from the club was making friends with students in other grades. That meant a lot to Lorio, in her first year at the school

“It was accepted to be friends with people that are upperclassmen,” she said.

“It brought all the girls together,” Dulgerian said. “You can turn to another person in the building and get support.”

Byrd and Lorio also became part of another group SMILE, which stands for Students Making Individuals’ Lives Easier. SMILE was an offset of Positive Teens.

One project SMILE did, when nobody was looking, was place smiley face magnets on nearly 500 lockers in school in an effort to offer encouragement.

“Some of them had scriptures or had a prayer,” Dulgerian said. “Some had a corny saying.”

“One girl came up to me and said she really appreciated it,” Byrd said. “It helped her through her day.”

The final “habit” was to give back to the community. The students got the idea to collect crayons for children who were ill or underprivileged. With Mathews coordinating the drive, the students collected more than 13,000 crayons.

The bulk of them were donated to Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit. Because the drive was so successful, the students also donated some to Grace Centers of Hope in Pontiac to use in the summer camps it runs for children who are homeless or who have difficult home lives due to violence and abuse.

Mathews said the crayons came from Regina, St. Joan of Arc Catholic School and Church, and Lakeview High in St. Clair Shores.