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TRANSCRIPT: Discussing ‘Courageous Beauty’ YouTube Channel with Kylie Allen

Below is a transcription of Episode #204 of Inside the FLX. Kylie Allen, of The Family Hope Center of Geneva was in-studio to discuss a YouTube Channel launched by the agency to connect with teens and young people.

Listen to the podcast below, and check out the original post here.

Josh Durso

What is Courageous Beauty?

Kylie Allen

So Courageous Beauty is a girls group that’s for ages 11 to 18-ish. I definitely go up on the the upper end just because a lot of girls who have experienced trauma their their growth stops at a certain point and their mentality still fits within the age range I’m targeting. Point is I’m trying to reach the younger girls before they end up in an unplanned pregnancy and we talk a lot about self worth. We talk a lot about healthy relationships. So the group itself we meet every week and I have a couple different locations that we meet at one of them is at family Hope Center in Geneva. We have a youth clubhouse engineer That we host one of our groups that which actually some boys take part into. And then we have a group at the south Seneca school in Ovid that just got started, we’re really excited about that. And what we do in the group is we usually start with an activity or a game, something that helps break the ice, get the girls to know each other and be a little bit more comfortable with each other. And then I will bring up some sort of topic for the group either to discuss or depending on the dynamics of the group, it might just be a lesson that I’m teaching and getting them engaged. And like I said, we focus a lot on self worth topics. Oftentimes in our Friday group, the one that meets at family Hope Center those girls have been with us for a long time. So they have started bringing their questions to group and we talk a lot about friendships lately. They want to know, you know, how do you talk to a friend when you feel like they’re, they’re like suffocating you and how do you have that conversation, things like that. So they bring those kinds of questions group and we talked about it. My big thing is that I don’t want to just be another teacher in there. I want to give them a safe space to voice their opinions and their thoughts because they actually do have really good thoughts. And just give them a safe space with some guided conversation points that they can have a voice.



Josh Durso

What was the need, or the challenge that you guys saw that prompted this effort?

Kylie Allen

Well, we work in a pregnancy Care Center. So we meet all kinds of girls and women who are in extremely unhealthy relationships, who are making risky choices. And it seems when we asked them, How is that they came to be where they are they they just say we’ve we’ve never heard any different this is what we’ve always known. And you know, they have sex education in the schools, but the schools still aren’t talking about the heart of the matter. Like they might talk about STDs. They might talk about about pregnancy and some of the physical risks involved. But they always seem to leave out the emotional part. And the bond part, which is essential in building relationships. So we just saw a huge need for girls, especially younger, we’d like to get them before they end up having made these bad choices and then experiencing consequences. We want to get them before that point, and start teaching them how to understand what a healthy relationship looks like, and what it means to be a healthy person themselves first, because how can they have a healthy relationship without being healthy person first. So that’s how we identify the need. And having this dynamic. It was kind of something that processed as we were doing it and found out Oh, they don’t want to be lectured. They really don’t and the girls wouldn’t come back to the group when we had it that way. So we found that when, you know, we staged it more as a conversation. It was something that girls wanted to take part in and we’ve had many girls say like, like I want to be here because I feel like these Are my friends now. And this is a place where I’m not going to be judged for what I think. And it’s like I can actually have a chance to form my own opinion about it.



Josh Durso

How does a program like this help add humanity back into a conversation that can sometimes feel very textbook?

Kylie Allen

It’s amazing. So oftentimes, the way group starts, I bring a topic, and I asked them to solve the problem. So it’s very cool to watch the girls try to answer the question and they’ll say something and like, Oh, that’s interesting. Tell me more about that. And so they’ll tell me more and I’m like, oh, Well, what about this? Did you think about how this might play into the puzzle? And then they’ll like, Oh, interesting. And then you know, certain things will come up in the conversation. And they’ll, they’ll bring something up very personal that they need to deal with in their lives. We actually recently had that happened in one of our groups. And we basically just stopped everything that happened and addressed to meet the needs of that particular girl in that moment. And all the girls, it’s amazing to watch this. All the girls came up around her and we’re like, yes, we’re here for you. And we’re going to tell you the truth. You’re beautiful, you’re worth it. You don’t have to listen to those lies and different things like that. So yeah. And it turns into a dynamic where the girls are mentoring each other. And that’s exactly what I want to teach them to do.



Josh Durso

How does the age gap between the girls play out in the group dynamic?

Kylie Allen

It’s actually very interesting because we do have a very wide range. We had a couple of 11 year olds that started out. And then we had a 17 year old to 17 year olds who are now both 18. One of them is, yeah, both of them are 18. Now, and what’s cool is that yes, sometimes the 11 year old 12 year olds, they can be kind of distracting in the group and like, want to do their own thing. But they’re still listening. They’re still listening to the conversation. And what ends up happening is that the older girls kind of team up with the younger girls, and they engage them like, especially with the game time, so they kind of draw them in. And the conversation sometimes is different depending on like our Do we have more of the older girls today? Or do we have more of the younger girls? And we just adapt to whatever those girls need, but they work really well together surprisingly, is

Josh Durso

Is there a bonding, or mentorship that is happening between the girls in this environment?

Kylie Allen

Yeah. And like I said, a lot of the girls in our Friday group have been coming for like two years, consistently every single week. So they know each other, and they’ve connected with each other outside of the group at this point. And like I said, that one day when the one girl was like expressing her needs, all the girls rallied around her and I don’t know if they all reached out to her directly after group but I know that they do that. They will reach out to one another, Hey, how are you doing this week? Do we need to get together with a couple of the other girls and just get some time out so you can like especially if some of them are struggling with things like anxiety or depression and things like that? So I would say yes, I think that a mentorship is naturally coming out as the older girls are interacting with the younger girls. I hope that they see me as a mentor figure as well and anyone else who would step into it. leadership role in this program.



Josh Durso

How do you overcome the challenges of the group dynamic?

Kylie Allen

The key there is activities and games. Because when we’re talking about really important topics, things that are embarrassing, uncomfortable, they need to be able to laugh. So that’s why it is so important for us to have games and activities and sometimes the beginning of our group. Sometimes I just gear the games to be something where they can get to know each other, or they can do something silly as a team and kind of figure out how to work together. But sometimes I choose a specific activity activity that teaches a lesson. And so that’s how we’ll introduce the topic. So a lot of times when we do Have some of those intense conversations. Not political, but like hot topic. And so it can get a little heated sometimes in the conversation and we just remind the girls, you need to be respectful to one another, you can share your thoughts, but respect that someone else might think differently than you do. And if some of the girls aren’t talking, that’s okay. I give them some things to fidget with with their hands. And more importantly, if they’re at least listening in the conversation, I’m happy with the way that goes. So the easiest way to break that is to get them talking about something that’s a little harder to talk about is to use activities and games.

Josh Durso

How quickly do the girls break into the conversation or group? Is there a period that they just soak things up first?

Kylie Allen

Yes, and no, it depends on who the girl is. She’s a little bit more extroverted. She typically just jumps right in because most of the girls invite her to do so. But we do have some some new girls who were kind of just sitting in the background and watching as things were happening to kind of figure out what’s what are the dynamics of this group. And I’ll tell you to each of the groups that I host are a little bit different in nature. So the one on the Friday group, which is the one that’s been going for the longest, and those girls have the most deeply connected relationships, and they’re really, really good about inviting other girls in that group is very different than the way the one at the youth clubhouse work. So that one is more there are boys involved with that one. And like that’s a whole different ballgame, just so you know, girls are way different than boys. So that group, it’s a little bit less of a safe space to talk. It’s more I’m there to engage them in a teaching lesson. So I bring something and I’ll ask them to engage in it. But I’m more of a teacher in that role at the self sanika School, which is still fairly new. I’m finding a very similar dynamic to what we have in the Friday group. So I’m hoping to create some of the similar atmosphere as the newer girls because all of them Our new, we’re creating what we want that to be. So the girls are very open. We’re just getting to know each other right now. And we’ll progress from there to see how they do with some of these heavier topics. I won’t throw them off at them all at once.



Josh Durso

From a personal perspective: How did you find your way into this line of work?

Kylie Allen

I could tell you the whole story, but I think I’ll shorten it just to this part, because I’ve been at with family Hope Center for since 2015. So that’s going on for years. And I started out as a volunteer didn’t really understand what the heart of it was. But as I was working there and getting to know our clients and building relationship with them, I realized how at the core family is, and like, our values, and when we were doing the pregnancy test, like it just broke my heart when I saw how many of these girls were experiencing the consequences of their choices. And the problem was that they had no idea that they were bad choices and I just I’ve always had a heart to mentor girls. So it was actually my director who suggested that I do something with the younger girls. And when she suggested it, I’m like, Oh, yeah, I’m taking that and running. And so I totally did. And that’s how the group came out. That’s my purpose. It’s just my heart to want to be mentoring girls, especially young girls.

Josh Durso

Talk to us about the digital programming you’re leading at The Family Hope Center of Geneva. The Courageous Beauty YouTube Channel.

Kylie Allen

Yeah. So it’s still fairly new to me. But one of the big things that we figured out is like we can get girls to come through the door, but most of the girls that we want to reach probably won’t come through our door unless they’re here for a pregnancy test. And the only way we can reach them is online. So recognizing that like we have our social media pages, Facebook, Instagram, all that Fun stuff. But I wanted a better way to engage with them. So what we did is we created a YouTube channel. And the first video that we made, we actually went to the high school in Geneva and we asked the kid to ask kids to ask us questions about self worth and healthy relationships. We got like, over 100 great questions about healthy relationships and self worth. And so then we just went on maybe making these videos to answer those questions. And we posted we post them on YouTube. So we’re actually continuing to do that. And I’m still very new at it. So if you do go check it out, just give me lots of grace. The cool thing is that we are getting some interaction and what we did is created an anonymous question forum online, and we link it to every YouTube video. We link it to all of our social media platforms. So girls can ask questions, submit questions, and we will answer them either on YouTube or any other media that we choose to use.



Josh Durso

Social media can be tough. How do you create teachable moments, or teach the girls what healthy interactions look like on the internet? Does the platform help with that?

Kylie Allen

Absolutely. I think it gives us a really good platform, because I have never seen any other centers doing this. Like, they have always wanted the clients to come to them, which is great. It’s honestly that’s where the most change is going to happen. Because that’s where relationship is so important. However, we’re not getting that information out online, which is where all of the clients are. So yeah, I think it’s huge and important to get our voice out there. So we’re sharing those kinds of things. So absolutely. Our videos one of the questions that we got and we answered is about what does an abusive relationship look like? Like how do I know if my boyfriend is being abusive? And then we talked online about what’s the difference between abuse, and just an unhealthy relationship. Because like control is really where that comes into play. So it’s really interesting. And it’s it’s important that we get that out online and offer it for free.

Josh Durso

When you look at agencies, and particularly the non-profit world in local communities, create a gap? How does it help you guys reach young people – when you’re active on these platforms like YouTube?

Kylie Allen

Yeah. So the first question Do I feel like the lack of online presence is the gap. I don’t think it’s the only gap. I do think it’s probably one of the bigger ones for being able to connect with that generation. One of the things we have found with this generation, and when I say this generation, I’m referencing Generation Z, which is the generation right underneath me, we’re finding that even though they do like to have all this information online, especially when it comes to these kinds of personal topics, they still want to talk to someone, they still want to have a personal contact. So, yes, it’s good to have this information online. But it’s not fully closing the gap. We want to be able to reach them online, but we still want to get them to come and have a personal relationship with us.



Josh Durso

Was there a moment when you realized this effort was really working and landing with the girls and community?

Kylie Allen

Yeah. Well, I can remember the moment was when we had like six questions in our anonymous question form. And I was like, they’re watching our stuff. They’re asking us questions. And it was really cool to watch because I have no idea who’s submitting these questions. But they’re kind of all aimed along the same lines. So I wonder, Is it the same couple people who are submitting the questions we answered on YouTube? And the answer ask a follow up question. Like they’re following our content. And that’s like, Ah, that’s exciting. I about probably squealed and jumped around the room a little bit.

Josh Durso

Is this the reminder that a healthy dialogue needs to be happening online when it comes to these issues – like teen pregnancy, mental health, relationships, etc.?

Kylie Allen

Yeah, absolutely. I wish that more of the agencies especially the not for profit agencies would get on the bandwagon. Jump online. It’s hard because we don’t have enough staff. But it’s important. It is very important. And we do need to be joining that conversation. That’s how we’re going to reach them.



Josh Durso

With your effort expanding into Seneca County from the Geneva-area: What are some of the things you’ve seen as an agency? What are some of the challenges?

Kylie Allen

Yeah, I think I still need more time to see some of those differences. But definitely the piece of like, extreme Geneva is is a city and there’s extreme diversity in race and color and everything and there’s a lot of acceptance because of that. There is also a lot of bullying because of that. In the rural community, there’s there’s not as much diversity. And there’s a lot of poverty. I think there’s a lot of poverty in both places. But Geneva has more access to resources than Seneca County does, which is why we needed to open a satellite center in Seneca County, because they’re having a hard time getting to the resources. So I think that’s the biggest difference. It’s just a need that I see Seneca county is lacking.

Josh Durso

Where does bullying fit into the issues the Hope Center tackles? Is it a ‘starting point’ for some of the issues the girls struggle with?

Kylie Allen

You know, to be honest, I don’t know that it always comes up as the starting point. But certainly it comes up pretty much every conversation we have. And I don’t know that they would always call it bullying. But it’s more like pressure. Like, it’s social pressure in general. But just like I have this opinion, and people are going to judge me, people are going to make fun of me, I have to have the exact right position, I have to have the exact right thoughts. I have to have the exact right appearance, like all those different things. So it ties in because every conversation we have, they’re always worried about what the other kids are going to be thinking. Or it may not be kids it may just be society in general that they’re afraid of. But online online bullying is a thing through text through through a lot of the other social media apps that they have like when they’re messaging each other personally, that’s it’s scary the stuff that’s happening online there and in school. So any Yeah, it comes up a lot but not as a starting point.



Josh Durso

Is peer pressure an issue the way it was in decades’ past? What does modern peer pressure look like? And is it (to any degree) over-discussed?

Kylie Allen

You know, I know that is still an issue, that peer pressure is definitely still a thing because kids are like they, I don’t know that they directly say you should do this. But there is like, just an expectation that everybody has a boyfriend in high school. Everybody has sex before they get out of high school. And it’s not true. But the kids assume that it is they’re assuming everybody’s doing these things. So peer pressure, I don’t, I don’t know that it always takes the form of Come on, come on, do it, do it. As much as it takes on the form of these are the social expectations and you’re weird if you don’t fit within that context. Does that make sense? So in that sense, that pressure is extremely present. The other one, I’m not sure how prevalent it is. I haven’t heard a lot of my girls talking about that. I think most of them kind of isolate themselves. Any Week is the kind of girls that we tend to get are the ones who don’t have a lot of friends at school. So there, they kind of keep distant. And I don’t think that peer pressure is something that affects them as highly as some others might like those who are already in groups of people and just want to stay within that group.



Josh Durso

How do you address the notion that young people, particularly teens, are just spending too much time on the internet – and that most of the issues they experience are related to the lack of ‘real life’ activities they’re participating in?

Kylie Allen

That’s that is an interesting question. Because on the one hand, yes, there are definitely more engagements on devices than there ever used to be. But I can tell you that when we sit down in group, almost all the girls put their phones away, and they don’t touch them while we’re in group. And they’re respectful about that. And maybe that’s because that’s what their parents taught them to do. Not sure. But the other interesting thing is anytime that we have brought this topic up in our girls groups before will ask them. What do you think the role of social media and the role of technology has in your life? Do you find it to be a detriment? Do you find it to be a help? And when we had that conversation, it was fascinating because the girls were like, yeah, I totally see where It gets out of hand sometimes. And I watch myself go there. And like Bill, they’ll start correcting their course when they feel it. And they definitely recognize like how social media can get out of hand. And they’re like, all right, I just need to take a break from this or Oh, okay, I’m pushing this too far. I’m putting too much online. And so they recognize it. But I think it’s important that we do have those conversations. And we need to ask them, because if they don’t, if they’re not being asked, they’re not going to think about it. So it, they do recognize it. The girls do recognize it. And they also see it as a help. Because at school, if there aren’t many people who are a good influence, they find supportive people online, and that has been something that has helped them through a lot of hard times in their life. So I don’t think it’s accurate to say that they’re always on their phones.




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