A letter from DSU Board President, May 2016
Considering today’s complicated landscape for teens, the Duxbury community is fortunate to be well ahead of the curve, having had the forethought over ten years ago to have supported and created a youth center.
Founded in 2006 based on a youth-at-risk study, Duxbury Student Union was originally designed as a social gathering place targeted to students in grades 6 through 12. Our founders believed in, as we do today, the power of non-parent adult and peer influence in guiding one another to make good decisions in the face of endless tough choices. A decade later the challenges teens face have changed significantly with introduction of technology, access to mobile devices as early as elementary school, hyper-focus on college resume building, and heightened academic and sport performance expectations. With these changes, parents and students have sought more purposeful programming.
At the same time, students today are notably more stressed and anxious, and are seeking coping strategies to handle the pressures to achieve. At DSU we can make more impact on student success and influence positive behaviors when we are able to connect with students as early as 3rd grade through after school programs and collaboration with the schools. The uniqueness of our central campus location in Duxbury’s historic Wright Building makes it possible for us to operate as a Student Union; the center of student life on the school campus.
When we engage students as early as 3rd grade, students build a lifelong connection that follows them through 12th grade and beyond. Perhaps the greatest DSU achievement has been the structured homework program featuring executive function skill building beginning in the 3rd grade, helping students to develop consistent study habits early on, in a distraction-free environment. As students make the daunting transition from elementary school to 6th grade, the emphasis becomes not only on consistency, but self-advocacy, self-care, and self-respect. Our goal is to help students celebrate successes and learn from failures, and feel empowered to manage academic, athletic, and social expectations independently. Students in our programs quickly realize the benefits of being in control and parents and families enjoy more harmony at home.
Today’s increasingly elevated risk climate for youth makes Duxbury’s investment in youth development even more critical. DSU will continue to respond with creative and innovative ways to positively impact youth and families through after school programs, special events, and wider reaching community initiatives including partnership with Duxbury Schools and Duxbury FACTS. DSU is committed to leading the charge and collaborating with other community leaders and organizations to mitigate teen risks, address mental wellness and behavioral health, educate youth about the consequences of substance use and addiction, and connect those in crisis and recovery to available resources.
In just ten years, the Duxbury Student Union has built a vibrant, engaged, and connected youth community, poised and ready to pivot to address the ever changing needs of Duxbury youth today and into the next decade.
President, DSU Board of Directors