It’s an age where young people are trying to figure out who they are and who they can become. It’s also a complicated time for young teens to establish friendship bonds.
For teens at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County’s Nappanee Clubhouse, Micah Ridenour is a friendly face to help them navigate through it.
“There’s so much changing in them that they just can’t put words to it sometimes,” Ridenour said. “Middle school relationships change every few weeks. I try to help them walk through that.”
The former middle school pastor joined the Club last August and has been busy building trust with the teens.
“I’ve learned that middle school is my niche group. There’s something about them that I appreciate,” he said.
Ridenour said that young teens can have a hard time putting into words what is happening to them socially, emotionally and physically.
“This is the age group where hierarchy starts to appear, and that can be tough to deal with all at once,” he said.
He along with Teen Coordinator Leeah Worley plan programs and activities that allow teens to do things they might not normally do. Each Wednesday, for example, they take a group of teens to Main Street Roasters coffee shop for food and games. It’s those types of activities that help the teens see their authenticity.
“Leeah and I try to be genuine with them. If you treat them with respect, they will be genuine back,” Ridenour said. “A lot of growth comes by just sitting down and engaging in conversation,” he said.
As the relationships with the teens develop, he’s also noticed a willingness for the teens to initiate conversations.
“I’ve noticed that I can come in to the room and sit at a table by myself. They see that and are now comfortable coming over and sitting with me to talk.”
It’s those bonds that can be the difference in helping teens reach their full potential.