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Youth Frontiers inspires character and community with support from the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation

Fifth in a series of articles on local charitable organizations supported by grants awarded by the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation through American Family Insurance Championship proceeds. The 2019 event takes place June 15-23 with play June 21-23.

Times may change, but the values of kindness, courage and respect should always remain. That philosophy is the driving force behind Youth Frontiers.

Youth Frontiers began in 1987 when founder Joe Cavanaugh met a student who asked for help when being bullied at school. He decided to take action, and work at building school communities where every person is treated with dignity and respect.

Thirty years later, Youth Frontiers continues to demonstrate to elementary, middle and high school students the power of these values in an engaging way.

Day of character and community building

The Youth Frontiers team works with local schools to offer inspirational one-day retreats that reach children at critical ages in an effort to enhance self-awareness, empathy and connectedness.

The high-energy day starts with fun “ice breaker” activities facilitated by those with backgrounds in music and theater. Later, topics such as making kind choices, practicing empathy skills and conflict resolution are explored. The day ends with reflection and making a commitment to continue what they’ve learned and sharing it with peers.

High school retreats include subjects such as respecting your own self, your body, and giving the same respect to those around you.

Universal values

“The values of kindness, courage and respect are universal,” said Jenny Hauser, Youth Frontiers donor relations manager. “Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. We need to teach them that character, civility and community are important.”

Putting these values into practice builds stronger communities, says Hauser. “Likewise, in community, we hold one another accountable for behaviors and we stand up for one another. When we are connected and feel a sense of belonging, we treat people better. We treat ourselves better.”

Impressive results

Among the results (one week follow-up and 30-day formal evaluation) show that of those students who’ve gone through a retreat, 85% are showing more respect for others and 94% of fourth and fifth graders report being more confident about speaking up when someone is being picked on (as reported by principals, counselors and students). Nine out of 10 schools request another retreat.

“Youth Frontiers’ vision is that our next generation of leaders is grounded in character,” said Hauser. “We hope the kids who have experienced our retreats will take what they have learned and practice living out the values of kindness, courage and respect in their schools today and in their communities tomorrow.”

Community support is vital

Foundation grants, like the one that came from American Family Insurance Championship proceeds, ensure that more and more children will be able to hear the positive messages shared by Youth Frontiers.

“We need the support of the community to reach more students with our retreats,” said Hauser. “The support of the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation not only helps make our mission possible, but it also sends a message to today's youth that they matter – and that the community cares about their future.”

More information and video

Learn more about Youth Frontiers and watch the video below for more about the good work they are doing in the community.

In just its first three years, the American Family Insurance Championship has provided proceeds of more than $4.7 million to 185 charitable organizations through the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation.