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Valley Forge's YOU B YOU group embraces and supports students in safe environment

YOU B YOU logo January 6, 2020

 

by M Powers

12th Grade

Valley Forge High School

 

 

Valley Forge High School started up a new group this school year to help students be true to who they are‭. ‬

YOU B YOU has become one of Valley Forge’s many amazing clubs and extracurricular activities and is a place after school for students to feel welcomed‭, ‬supported and their authentic self‭. ‬

Valley Forge Guidance Counselor Dawn Tabaj and Home Liaison Sylvie Argirakis serve as advisers for the group‭, ‬but allow for students to lead the conversations and activities‭.‬

Tabaj said she has run similar groups in the past‭, ‬like Gay Straight Alliance‭, ‬and there has been an interest in it every year‭. ‬‭ ‬

“I think we recognize that we need a safe place for students who are LGBTQ‭+ ‬and also straight to go and talk about things they are facing‭,‬”‭ ‬she expressed‭. ‬“Peer support can be so vital at this age‭. ‬We feel like providing a private‭, ‬non-judgmental place that students can be themselves‭ ‬and who they are is so important‭.‬”

The focus is on making a place where students can feel comfortable sharing personal stories as well as create a sense of belonging‭. ‬

“Our goal of the group is to help foster a safe environment where each week students can bring to the group things they are struggling with and together we work through how to handle them‭,‬”‭ ‬Tabaj shared‭. ‬“Many students share things in the group that they have not shared with their family or friends yet‭.‬”‭ ‬

This group is truly for anyone and all students can join‭. ‬Also‭, ‬the group isn’t only for discussions‭.‬

“We want students to have fun so we will be starting part of our group as‭ ‬‘living room’‭ ‬time where they get to hang out‭, ‬play games and just socialize‭,‬”‭ ‬Tabaj expressed‭. ‬“It is a confidential group and we named it YOU B YOU because any student‭, ‬no matter how they identify‭, ‬can be part of it‭. ‬There‭ ‬is no pressure to share anything private‭.‬”‭ ‬

So far‭, ‬the students feel‭ ‬“immediately comfortable in a non-judgmental environment‭,‬”‭ ‬Tabaj expressed‭.  ‬Students have been able to openly and honestly share what they have been through‭. ‬

Tabaj and Argirakis have noticed that a lot of students have similar experiences‭, ‬which has helped them realize that they aren’t alone‭. ‬

There has also been a‭ ‬“cohesiveness of the students”‭ ‬Tabaj described‭, ‬which has been one of many things that allow this group to thrive and help students make personal connections‭ ‬with each other‭. ‬

YOU B YOU meets every Wednesday and continues to encourage all students to join an enthusiastic and accepting group‭!‬