Youth Frontiers Brings Courage to Orono Middle School

Youth Frontiers encourages students to re-think their actions.

Twenty-six years ago, a 10th grade student in Montana approached retreat leader Joe Cavanaugh and said, “There are these kids at school who make fun of me every day. Can you do anything to stop them?”

That question launched Youth Frontiers (YF), a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that facilitates MTV-meets-Aristotle retreat programs in schools that help build positive school communities where students thrive socially, emotionally and academically.

Local junior high, Orono Middle School, has been working with YF for 12 years. “The kids get so much out of that day,” says Jana Graham, YF coordinator for the Orono Middle School parent association. “We hope it stays with them. It’s a great reminder to be nice to each other, especially as they move onto high school.”

Since 1987, YF has worked with more than 1.3 million students and educators. “In 2013 alone, we presented 745 retreats to more than 119,000 students and educators,” says YF communications and marketing manager Susan Harris. “We travel all over the country, from Minnesota to Nebraska to Arizona.”

“Bullying goes on everywhere, but retreats like this are a good reminder to these kids that they can choose a different path,” says Graham. “I remember one 8th grader during a retreat stood up and said, ‘I’ve been a bully for a long time and I want to change.’

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