Students in the Northwest Arkansas Teen Outreach Program (TOP) in Springdale spent more than 3,500 hours giving back to their community during the Fall 2021 semester.
UAMS Community Health and Research (CHR) has partnered with the Springdale School District and local nonprofit youth agencies to offer TOP to 1,200 ninth-grade students. In the fall, 420 students were enrolled in TOP.
TOP is a program that empowers teens to make healthy decisions and avoid risky behaviors. Curriculum lessons, community service learning activities, tools and resources help youth identify risk behaviors and employ practical skills to make smart decisions in their relationships and health. NWA TOP uses the Wyman Center’s TOP approach, which uses a medically-accurate curriculum that is age-appropriate, culturally and linguistically appropriate, and trauma informed.
The program relies heavily on community service activities among the youth. During the fall semester, students completed a total of 3,590 hours, with each teen averaging 9 hours. Community projects included decorating bags for Meals on Wheels recipients; sending Thank You cards and gifts to local veterans, healthcare workers, school officials and bus drivers; working on cleanup projects at Murphy Park, and more.
“It’s important for teens to have meaningful opportunities to practice their skills and feel the ‘CSL Glow,'” said CHR Program Director Hershell West. “We give TOP students voice and choice to choose community service projects that matter most to them.”
All of our [community service learning] lessons have helped us find new ways to help and serve our community.Springdale TOP student
Funding for TOP is provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Children, Youth and Families. To learn more about NWA TOP, click here.