Connect with High School Students
Branch Out, designed by the team at One Trusted Adult, enhances your youth-serving program by helping to build connection and community
through activities, discussion, and fun! Each session encourages honest self-reflection and discovery, builds skills for solving problems and growing healthy relationships, and offers ideas for taking action and making community-wide impact, all while fostering strong connections between adults and youth as well as among peers.
Why do we call our program Branch Out? Trees teach us so much about what it means to be part of a community—how to rely on our roots, stay grounded, stand tall, provide shade, weather storms, and go out on a limb. Branching out means embracing opportunities, learning new skills, meeting people, and exploring all that the world has to offer. The discussions and activities in Branch Out prepare young people— and challenge them—to do just that.
Branch Out encourages young people to develop important life skills while
connecting with the peers and adults who surround them. The program is focused on four core principles:
1. Connection is one of the best protective factors against issues that can negatively impact mental or physical health.
2. Teaching people how to contribute to their communities—and how to seek opportunities for becoming a part of communities—leads to their greater social, mental, physical, and emotional wellness.
3. Academic engagement is directly correlated with feelings of safety and belonging.
4. Consistent and proactive conversations about life skills with peers and trusted adults lead to healthier choices, greater resilience, stronger engagement, and improved wellness.
Branch Out can be completed in small-group settings such as advisories or used in larger-group classes and programs.
Divided into twenty-five specific topics plus an opening and a closing, with each session following the same organization.
Branch Out activities take anywhere from twenty-five to sixty minutes with flexible meetings that allow you to keep things moving or dive in. Designed to require no prep.
Activities capture the attention of students ages fourteen to eighteen with group challenges, writing prompts, opportunities for reflection, and self-analysis tools that address the universal needs of youth in a fun and unique way.
The sessions are designed so that young people can lead the activities and discussion, though you may also choose adult facilitators; the opening and closing sessions should be led by an educator.
The topics covered in Branch Out touch all areas of life and urge participants to invest in, care for, and pay attention to self, others, and their communities as a whole. Your opportunity as an educator is to encourage all to see and understand that the decisions they make in one area of their lives can have a big impact on the outcomes in other areas. Each session is broken into five sections: Warm-Up, Fast Facts, Activity, Agreements, and Branch Out.
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