Local youth learn importance of resilience

Evanston Mayor Kent Williamspresents Patience White with a T-shirt after she was knighted by Uinta County School District No. 1 Special Education Director Matt Williams during a banquet honoring local youth who completed a resilience course offered by NextGen Mentoring. (HERALD PHOTOS/Kayne Pyatt)

EVANSTON — Seven youth — Johnathan Kunz, Mykel Stokes, R.J. Sherwood, Victor Byrd, Piper Lacy, Paige Lacy and Patience White — completed the NextGen Mentoring classes on developing resilience and were recognized at a banquet and knighting ceremony last month at Uinta BOCES No. 1 in Evanston.

On June 2, invited guests and students began the evening by enjoying a meal catered by Down Home Eatery followed by a welcome from NextGen Mentoring Program Coordinator Bethany Shidler.

“This last six weeks of classes has been a chance for all of us to get to know each other better,” Shidler said. “Resilience is something we all need to learn and the sooner in life we learn it the better off we will be in the future. You are better prepared now to be the better leaders of the future.”

Shidler introduced the next speaker, program director for Wrap-Around Services, Diva Bermudez.

Wrap-Around Services is a state program that works with youth ages 4 to 20 who have emotional or behavioral concerns, Bermudez said. The program collaborates with NextGen Mentoring and also makes referrals to other resources and agencies.

Two students, Paige Lacy and Victor Byrd, each reflected on their experience in being a part of the classes on developing resilience.

“I learned about using positive self-talk,” Lacy said, “like repeating, ‘I am beautiful, kind and passionate about my family,’ instead of negative talk.”

“The classes were good. I learned coping skills and how to keep my emotions in check.” Byrd said. “The classes benefited everyone. Thank you.”

Shidler said she chose the symbol of a knight’s armor for the classes because a knight’s armor covers the whole body and protects it. The helmet protects the brain which can generate good thoughts and fight depression and the bad things others might say.

The breastplate covers the heart and vital organs and protects the emotions and the student learns to recognize their emotions and how to deal with them. The belt of armor protects the lower extremities and the students learned coping skills. The boots are the wearer’s foundation and as the wearer grows and changes so does the foundation.

The shield is important, Shidler said, because it is the symbol of protecting one’s self-worth and values. The sword is the only offensive weapon and represents the bearer’s strength, Shidler explained.

“If you are strong in all of the defensive skills you learned in the classes,” Shidler said to the students, “you can fight off any negative that comes your way in life.”

Each of the seven students who had completed at least four of the six classes came forward to be knighted and handed their certificate.

As each student came up to the front, Uinta County School District No. 1 Special Education Director Matt Williams asked him or her to kneel and he said their name and placed a sword first on one shoulder and then on their other shoulder and said, “I proclaim you a knight (or lady) into the Order of the Armor of Resilience.” 

Mayor Kent Williams, who had taught one of the classes, then handed the student a T-shirt and certificate of completion.

Shidler held up one of the T-shirts, which had a laurel wreath surrounding a green shield with a symbol of a hawk and a torch upon it. Beneath the shield were the words, “I am the creator of my reality.” 

“The laurel wreath signifies peace and triumph,” Shidler said. “The blue used on the laurel wreath and the hawk and torch symbols signifies truth and loyalty. The green shield is for hope and joy; the hawk is the symbol for achieving objectives; and the torch stands for a life of service and intelligence.”

Shidler pointed to pictures of knights hanging on a wall and told the guests that the students had each been given a picture of a knight and they had added their own words to the knight’s armor as they gained a skill during the classes. Shidler encouraged the students to take their picture of the knight home and hang it up where it will remind them of the skills they have gained.

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