HERE, TEENS CAN DARE TO SHARE WHAT IS TRUE TO THEM: Give Us The Floor is a unique safe and supportive place where teens help each other. they can talk freely about their struggles and experiences, but also achievements, with peers who are facing or have faced, the same challenges. It is a community of young people connected by their challenges, interests, and questions.
“Youth have the power to make a real difference in the lives of people around them. When young people have troubles, frustrations, concerns, worries, or life events that affect them, they often turn to peers rather than adults for help.”
Barbara B. Varenhorst, Ph.D.
If teenagers can share freely and safely with peers the difficulties they go through, if they can safely voice the challenges they face, there is no more stigma nor taboo and it allows them to believe in themselves and in their future.
To create and support a safe and trustworthy environment where we, as teenagers, know that whatever challenge we struggle with, Give Us The Floor is THE place where we will find peers that have faced or are facing the same challenges. This is a place where teens encourage, support each other, and share wisdom. A place where we understand that we share common challenges and that we are not alone.
The “teen age” is a stage of life where the brain is still very malleable. Entering the first years of adulthood with self-confidence, comfort and optimism is critical to becoming balanced, healthy and civically engaged adults.
It is urgent to act to prevent a public health crisis
- 50% of Americans will have a mental disorder*
- 75% will have started by age 24*
- Stigma is a major barrier to treatment
*(Kessler RC et al., 2005, Harvard Medical School)
Teenage years are a difficult and unbalanced period of life. The challenges that youth struggle with and the ways they handle them or not can push them into anxiety, depression, eating disorders, self-harm, bullying, physical health issues or suicide.
Give Us The Floor Method
1- Knowing that a friend is experiencing the same emotion makes us feel better than we would if we experienced the situation alone. When we stop feeling ashamed and different, we can ask for help.
2- Self-expression via art has a healing and a stress reduction power
3- Helping others has a great impact on teens and promotes their healthy development
Experiential & Social Learning
The creative pieces that teens create to address their challenges use experiential and social learning methods to engage in:
● peer-to-peer support ● self-reflection ● critical analysis ● interdisciplinary learning ● leadership ● civic engagement ● career development ● cultural awareness
If you are between 13 and 22
4 Ways to get involved
1- Subscribe to our awesome newsletter and get invited to our online and in-person events + updates of what other teens publish HERE
2- Give power to your voice: Share your struggles, experiences or achievements through videos, photos, graphics, blogs etc. HERE
3- Participate in our Supportive peer to peer Group Chat(s) HERE
4- Become a teen member HERE (Learn more Here)
WHAT ADULTS DO
"It’s all controlled by us, all by the teenagers, all by the youth. And the adults are there, there are adults, but they are just over watching us; but we are the ones that actually control what we want to be done" ~ Paul
1. Support teens while they express themselves about their challenges using Experiential Learning and Creative Projects: Teens can choose to be a part of the Creative Team (photographer, filmmaker, artist, blogger, designer etc.), STEAM team (Programmer), Social Media Team, Intern.
2. Train Teen Discussion Leaders for them to be better at supporting their peers during casual discussions, meet-ups or while creating projects.
3. Provide Workshops with Professionals to better express themselves about their struggles, fears, pressures.
WHAT PARENTS NEED TO KNOW
Teenage years are a difficult and unbalanced period of life. The struggles that youth face and the ways they handle them or not will impact their whole life. It can push them into anxiety, depression, eating disorders, self-harm, bullying, physical health issues or suicide.
A period of high brain plasticity is when our experiences have lasting effects. It is commonly known and accepted that the first few years of life is one, but we now know that adolescence is one as well! The brain will never again be as “malleable” as it is during adolescence. Depending on individuals, the brain becomes “adult” around 24-25 years old. We can’t miss this second chance to help our kids become happier and healthier.
It has become urgent that we, adults, start acknowledging and supporting the teenage years.
Brain science explains why adolescence is a vulnerable period, and why it has become, more than in the past, a period where young people are at risk for dangerous behavior, mental health problems, and difficulties in making a successful transition to adulthood.
"Adolescence is probably the last real opportunity we have to put individuals on a healthy pathway and to expect our interventions to have substantial and enduring effects.
But this malleability is a risk as well, because, during these times of heightened sensitivity, the brain is also more vulnerable to damage from physical harms, like drugs or environmental toxins, or psychological ones, like trauma and stress. The adolescent brain is extraordinarily sensitive to stress.
With the exception of ADHD, separation anxiety disorder, learning disorders, and autism spectrum disorders, the age range for the typical onset of every other major disorder falls somewhere in the period between ages ten and twenty-five.
It is easier to treat psychological problems when they first emerge than later after they have become more intractable. Once the window of plasticity has started to close, these problems become harder to treat.”
Approximately one-half of all mental illnesses start to manifest during the early teen years (14 years). The sooner the illness is identified and addressed, the better the outcome. As it stands, 70 percent of those who are diagnosed and treated see positive results. There is no reason to be ashamed of having a kid with a mental illness. It doesn’t mean you didn’t do a good job parenting. It just means that your kid(s) was less lucky than others on this matter. They’re certainly luckier in other aspects.
As a parent, one key thing to remember is that you have the power to positively influence your kid(s) life. Even if you have the impression that you're completely disconnected from them. Learn more: How to help prevent your child dealing with depression
- Approximately 20% of adolescents have a diagnosable mental health disorder.
- Many mental health disorders first present during adolescence.
- Between 20% and 30% of adolescents have one major depressive episode before they reach adulthood.
- For a quarter of individuals with mood disorders like depression, these first emerge during adolescence.
- Between 50% and 75% of adolescents with anxiety disorders and impulse control disorders (such as conduct disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) develop these during adolescence.
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death in adolescents and young adults.
- Suicide affects young people from all ages, races, genders, and socioeconomic groups, although some groups seem to have higher rates than others.
- Older adolescents (aged 15-19) are at an increased risk for suicide (7.31/100,000).
- Between 500,000 and one million young people aged 15 to 24 attempt suicide each year.
- Existing mental health problems become increasingly complex and intense as children transition into adolescence.
- Untreated mental health problems among adolescents often result in negative outcomes.
- Mental health problems may lead to poor school performance, school dropout, strained family relationships, involvement with the child welfare or juvenile justice systems, substance abuse, and engaging in risky sexual behaviors.
- An estimated 67% to 70% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health disorder.
3 improving factors
- Knowing that a friend is experiencing the same emotion makes humans feel better than they would if they experienced the situation alone. It is called the sharing effect: “sharing exposure to emotional stimuli with a friend buffers the impact of negative stimuli and enhances the impact of positive stimuli”*. Teens need to be able to share their difficulties and achievements safely, and be supported by people they trust and relate to: other teens.
One of the key results seeked here is also to remove taboo and stigma, make them understand they’re okay and will keep being fine. If they stop feeling ashamed and different, they can ask for help when needed.
- Self-expression via art has a healing power and a stress reduction power*. The challenge for teens is to find a safe, trusted and non-judgmental place to do so with trusted people to help them as it is not always easy to open up. *https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2804629/, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5004743/
- Helping others has a great impact on teens and promotes their healthy development. Read more: Teenagers: The Incredible Outcomes Of Helping Others
Give Us The Floor’s method combines #1, #2 and #3 by creating a community of teens who support each other, understand that each of them faces struggles and that it is normal! Peers are the most efficient vectors of the message as they are the most trusted and relatable ones.
How do we ensure that Give Us The Floor is a safe place?
- Community rules and very strict on respect and behavior. Check them here
- For any in-person or video chat teen-only meetings/workshops, we don’t allow any new teen to join without a member of the adult team having had a video call with them unless the new member is invited by a teen member who knows them personally. There is always a minimum of one trained teen who knows how to act if a member becomes inappropriate.
- Supportive group chats are facilitated by 1 or 2 trained teenagers Learn more here
- We curate all the content that is submitted by the members before publishing it.
A team of adults who really understand how little they understand.
Founder & Executive Director
Valerie is an expert in how to engage teenagers. Following her passion, she decided to create Give Us The Floor. She is an experienced advertising and television executive, founder and CEO of StoraLab, specialized in creating experiences for teens and tweens. Its main project, TBQE The Best Question Ever, was a curiosity-driven social app for young people. Previously to founding StoraLab, Valerie enjoyed a successful career in the advertising industry in Europe. She was the Founder and Executive Producer of Tipitina Films, a production company specializing in award-winning television commercials. Valerie produced international films for advertisers including L’Oréal, Chrysler, Volkswagen, Kraft Foods, and Samsung. She has also held finance and operational leadership roles. Her business success led to the acquisition of Others, a B2B advertising agency by Gyro, a global firm headquartered in London.
Click here for Valerie's blog
Director of Strategic Partnerships
Rob believes that we have a historic opportunity to design new ways for people and organizations to make the world a better place. His career includes experience in business development, communication design, and project management that spans the private, nonprofit, and civic sectors. In 2015, he led the development of the Founders Pledge program for Full Circle Fund, where he created programing and resources for a community of startup founders that have pledged company equity to nonprofits. Recent experience also includes marketing and communications for HealthRIGHT 360 during multiple mergers and the launch of a $15MM capital campaign. His civic engagement includes continued volunteer service as the director of Please Touch Garden, an interim use project in San Francisco that has transformed a blighted Civic Center lot into a thriving arts garden.
Strategic Marketing Advisor
Gretchen Fox is a recognized executive and thought leader in social media & digital transformation. She provides a social vision and strategy for startups and Fortune 500 brands striving to take social to the next level. Prior to launching MTO Agency (Made to Order) and MTO EDU, Ms. Fox served as Vice President of Social at Live Nation Entertainment, the world's leading live entertainment company, where she built an in-house social agency servicing over 100 live music venues and superstar touring artists including Pink, Rihanna, and Jay-Z. Before joining Live Nation, Ms. Fox launched one of the first Social TV products to deliver interactive and live streaming experiences at NASPERS R&D project and Silicon Valley start-up, MediaZone. In this role, she managed online marketing for some of the world's biggest sport properties including: AELTC's Wimbledon Championships, IndyCar Race Control, Rugby World Cup, ING New York City Marathon, and NBC's Winter Olympics. Her work has earned her the Billboard Magazine Top Women in Social, regular press coverage, and a role as contributing writer for Forbes online.
Supportive Group Chat Adult Advisor
Katharine studied psychology, counseling, and family studies in her undergraduate and graduate education. She originally came to GUTF to help facilitate the in-person meaningful conversation groups and has transitioned into training and advising the teens who facilitate and participate in the Supportive Group Chats on Snapchat. She is passionate about supporting youth in learning how to communicate with and support each other. She is skilled in recognizing differences in communication and assisting people to adapt to others’ communication styles. She has worked with young people on the autism spectrum and their families, advocated for victims of sexual assault and felony level crimes, as well as supporting people with mental illness who live in adult foster homes.
Nicolle is a seasoned Marketing Director with over a decade of experience creating and executing integrated marketing campaigns. She works full-time for a public university, where one of her primary responsibilities is to manage a robust (17K+) social media community, encourage engagement, and provide training to staff and faculty on how to manage a safe, active community online. In December of 2017, Nicolle accepted the role of Community Manager with Give Us the Floor and is deeply enjoying her interactions with teens who are so willing to give their time and energy to such an important cause. Nicolle is the mother of a four-year old son and lives in Southern Oregon.
Executive Assistant & Team Coordinator
Lindsay studied education in college, and eventually found a career in project and team management. She enjoys finding new ways to streamline processes, organizing events, and keeping everyone on the same page. She believes that today’s youth hold the key to our world’s future, and she is passionate about helping them tap into their creativity and enjoys helping them find new ways to have their voices be heard.
Board of Directors
Barbara B. Varenhorst
Barbara Varenhorst is a former secondary teacher, counselor and psychologist in the Palo Alto, CA School District. She earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Stanford in 1964. In 1970 she founded the first Peer Counseling Program. She is the co-founder of the National Peer Helpers Association and served as President of the California Association of Peer Programs. Her teaching has included at Harvard, Stanford, Johns Hopkins and San Francisco State. She has been on the Boards of St. Olaf College, The College Board and Search Institute. Currently she serves on the non-profit Vesper Society and as Chair of the Corporate Members. Her publications include, Curriculum Guide for Student Peer Counseling Training, Real Friends: Becoming the Friend You’d Like to Have; Peer Ministry Training: The Basic Training and Peer Helping Training. She co-authored Deciding and Decisions and Outcomes for the College Board and from 1985-1995 she wrote a column “Youth Ask Barbara” for Group Magazine. She continues to provide training and consultations to school Districts and colleges around the Country.
Harriet is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. National leader in her profession, she is the President-elect of the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) and the immediate Past Chair of APsaA’s Committee on Psychoanalytic Education. She is a past President and immediate Past Chair of the Board of Trustees of the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis where she is a Training and Supervising Analyst. She also is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. Harriet understands, teaches and advocates for the importance of interpersonal relationships and social support systems for optimal human development. She is excited to join Give Us the Floor in offering teenagers a platform for both giving and receiving help within their peer group.
Board of Directors
Silicon Valley executive and serial tech entrepreneur and strategy consultant for both startups and more mature companies. A graduate from l'Ecole Normale Supérieure in France (doctorate in philosophy), Marylene started her career in France as the founder of ACI (now 4th Dimension) and launched the first bestselling relational database on Macintosh. One of the first European women to start a company in the Silicon Valley, she co-founded ACIUS with Guy Kawasaki in 1987. She then became the CEO of Exemplary Software (spin off from HPLabs), a lean supply chain management system acquired by Persistent Systems, of Brixlogic, a platform for the native implementation of XML Schemas acquired by Diebold, and co-founded TalentCircles of which she was the CEO for four years. She has helped about 30 companies as a board member or consultant. She has translated books by Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin and Hugh McLeod into French, as well as written prefaces for these books and others. Earlier in her career, she authored several books on the history of fashion and fragrance.
Founder & Executive Director
Valerie is an expert in how to engage teenagers. Following her passion, she decided to create Give Us The Floor. She is an experienced advertising and television executive, founder and CEO of StoraLab, specialized in creating experiences for teens and tweens. Its main project, TBQE The Best Question Ever, was a curiosity-driven social app for young people.
Previously to founding StoraLab, Valerie enjoyed a successful career in the advertising industry in Europe. She was the Founder and Executive Producer of Tipitina Films, a production company specializing in award-winning television commercials. Valerie produced international films for advertisers including L’Oréal, Chrysler, Volkswagen, Kraft Foods, and Samsung. She has also held finance and operational leadership roles. Her business success led to the acquisition of Others, a B2B advertising agency by Gyro, a global firm headquartered in London.
Rodger has spent most of his 20+ year career working in entrepreneurial environments, most recently as a founding partner of R&K Consulting LLC, where he enjoys advising entrepreneurs and early stage companies. Working closely with the founders and management teams of various startup companies, Rodger has been successful in assisting them in their fundraising, which includes both venture funding and venture debt. He has worked with companies such as WhiteHat Security, Immunet (acquired by Sourcefire), Sigaba (acquired by Proofpoint), iSEC Partners (acquired by NCC Group), TargetX, StoraLab and 28msec. Rodger holds a B.S. Business Administration, from the University of California, Berkeley
Kay has over 30 years of experience in helping for profit and non-profit organizations and governmental agencies achieve their goals and improve operations. She earned a BS in Engineering in hardware and software design from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from University of Hawaii. She also is CPA (inactive). She has worked in small startups and well as large organizations such as Hewlett Packard, Coopers & Lybrand, City & County of San Francisco, and Florida DOT. Her primary responsibilities were in finance, human resources, quality improvement, performance monitoring, and facilities management. She also founded Zillio Foundation a 501 (c) (3) non profit focused on improving math education for K-8 students and teachers. Kay enjoys project management in all its forms. She maintains a small management consulting practice and volunteers for organizations focused on children, teens and women.
Board of Adult Advisors
Ken is Writerguy, a creative director and consultant for innovative and socially relevant games and experiences. He has long been interested in the positive social effects of collaborative experiences and open-ended, creative play. He is the creator of the award-winning FutureCoast and Giskin Anomaly, co-creator of participatory works Zorop and Ruination, and the creator of the landmark collaborative narrative World Without Oil. He has designed games professionally for over 20 years.
Matt is CEO and Founder of Oji Life Lab, which creates hands-on and online learning experiences that help employees gain vital skills for life and work. Oji Life Lab focuses on life literacy, the array of ideas and skills that allow us to thrive, from finding purpose to finding business opportunities, from managing teams to managing emotions. Matt’s career in high-tech companies includes starting and selling companies to Apple and Microsoft; running MSN.com and other businesses at Microsoft; and serving on the Board of Directors of public and private companies. He currently serves on the Board of Thrive Networks, a Bay Area non-profit and advises several tech startups. Matt lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two children.
Scott B. Price, CPA
Scott is principal at Scott B. Price & Company Certified Public Accountants San Francisco. He manages a staff of twelve professionals in the tax and accounting departments, reviews and prepares tax returns, projections, and gives advice regarding tax matters for non-profit organizations, closely held corporations, partnerships, fiduciaries, and individuals. He does final reviews of audit, review, and compilation engagements for compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, Statements on Auditing Standards, and Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Engagements. Scott is the treasurer of Rainforest Action Network, Inc. and Perinatal Medical Associates, a board member of Cedars of Marin and a member of advisory council at Ronald McDonald House of San Francisco.
Neil is a Managing Partner in the San Francisco office of Boyden and leads the firm's Technology Practice Group in the Americas. Neil's career in executive search has historically focused on leading edge technology and innovation. His clients include Fortune 500 multinationals along with early-stage and mid-cap companies. He has worked closely with founders and venture investors on new business concepts as well as provided the leadership necessary to attract senior executives to global opportunities with large, multi-national companies.
Today, along with projects in online search and advertising, mobile devices and applications, big data, cloud computing and security, Neil is building a practice expertise in the emerging Cleantech category. He is leveraging the synergies of a career devoted to the rigors of scientific research and entrepreneurship.
Neil has a well-established reputation for delivering key thought leadership and targeted skill sets to his clients.
Dr. Peter Zandan
Global vice chair and worldwide research practice group leader at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, a leading WPP communications firm with 90 offices in 52 countries, Dr. Zandan founded IntelliQuest and served as its chairman and CEO for 15 years. The company provided brand, marketing, and media research to companies such as Apple, IBM, and HP, became the fastest growing market research company worldwide and was publicly-traded on the Nasdaq (IQST). He was the founder and CEO of Zilliant, a leading provider of price-optimization solutions, named one of the top 50 venture-backed companies by The Wall Street Journal. Dr Zandan was selected by Interactive Week as one of the “Unsung Heroes of the Internet,” awarded Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year,” and named to Holmes Report “Top 25 Innovators List” in 2013. He is a member of the Presidents’ Circle of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine in Washington D.C.