ACT for Youth Center of Excellence

STYA: Small Group Discussion

STYA: Small Group DiscussionYoung people need opportunities to discuss their concerns with caring adults. STYA programs offer preteens adult-led activities that facilitate discussion of sensitive topics (STYA component 2). To help younger adolescents identify, talk about, and work through their concerns, STYA programs utilize team-building, creative expression, and social-emotional learning activities. Through experiential learning, participants come to understand how to approach and resolve problems. STYA programs do not provide professional mental health services including mental health counseling, psychoanalysis or treatment for severe mental illness, crisis intervention, or case management services. Youth requiring these services are referred to appropriate professionals in the community. Examples of topics that might be addressed in discussion sessions include:
  • The development of healthy attitudes and values about adolescent growth and development, body image and positive self-esteem, respect and appreciation for human diversity, and other related subjects
  • Healthy relationships, such as:
    • friendships
    • kindness and positive support for peers (including anti-bullying bystander intervention)
    • gender roles
    • dating
    • relationship dynamics and power balances
    • romantic involvement
    • marriage
    • family interactions
  • Educational and career success, such as:
    • maximizing school success
    • exploring career alternatives and goals
    • developing skills to prepare for employment
  • Development of good study habits and other practices focused on academic achievement
  • Healthy life skills, such as:
    • health behaviors
    • goal setting
    • decision making
    • negotiation, communication, and interpersonal skills
    • stress management
STYA's discussion component is separate and distinct from similar activities that occur as part of the mentoring component.


Self-Esteem and Self-Expression

This Thrive Foundation site provides instructions and resources to help youth envision and work toward their full potential. Group lessons teach skills that promote youths' dreams and their contribution to the world.

Afterschool Training Toolkit
This toolkit from the SEDL National Center for Quality Afterschool offers research-based practices, sample lessons, and resources to support academic enrichment in afterschool. Lessons on creative expression are included in the Arts and Technology sections.


Icebreakers, Teambuilders, and Tips (PDF)
This collection of group-building activities was compiled by Lehigh University; many are appropriate for children.

Raccoon Circle Activities (PDF)
This online manual offers a wide variety of games, activities, stories, and ideas for building community and teamwork.

Social-Emotional Learning

Wings offers free kits that were specially designed for parents/guardians, educators, youth development leaders, and others who want to incorporate social and emotional development activities into kids' daily lives.

Wings: Bullying (PDF)
Here Wings provides several activities to help children become aware of how others feel, discuss pressure and bullying, learn to say "no," and identify the components of a trusting relationship.

Emotional Intelligence Activities (PDF)
This guide is designed as an aid to teaching social and emotional skills to children ages 8-10.

Coping Skills for Kids: Brain Works Project
This site introduces preteens to the ways we use our brains to cope with stress. Activities and resources are included.