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Get Excited - This Year With LIFT Will Be The Best One Yet

Welcome to another fantastic year here at The LIFT Teen Center! We're thrilled to be able to provide our amazing teens with unique opportunities and activities, and we want you—our supportive parents, community members, and all of the incredible teens we serve—to join us in celebrating what lies ahead. Whether it's a new team member or exciting new programs that are coming up this year, there's something for everyone with us at LIFT. So get ready and keep reading - find out more about each of our announcements below!

New staff member: Alana Slanec

As LIFT programs expand, our team of dedicated staff members does as well. We are excited to announce that we have welcomed Alana Slanec on staff as our Northport Coordinator.

Alana grew up in Lake Orion, Michigan, just outside of Detroit, and began volunteering with LIFT at the end of October 2022. However, she and the LIFT team knew she was destined for a permanent position with our program, and she officially joined the team this month.

“I’ve been following LIFT for years, and I’ve always told Bekah I’d love to be a part of it. She asked me to come on as a volunteer, and I ended up falling in love with it and working here! So far, it is the best job I’ve ever had!” - Alana Slanec, Northport Program Coordinator

We are so excited to welcome her to our team and community, and if you see her during programming or out and about, be sure to say hi! For more staff information, you can read our blog post here.

Programming at Northport in the 2023-2024 School Year

Now that we have a full-time position filled for our Northport Program, we are overjoyed to share with you that we will be expanding our programming into the next phase of our five-year plan (five schools in five years) and LIFT's Programming for Northport Schools will officially begin in Fall 2023.

Since 2017, we have been working with the students at Suttons Bay Schools to establish our programming and create a welcoming environment for all who join, and it's time to grow our reach. Throughout the 2023-2024 school year, Northport Schools will have access to full-time LIFT Middle School Programming and events for High School Students. Although all programming will be happening in tangent with Suttons Bay, each school has its program coordinator dedicated to working with teens from that school.

Middle Schoolers will be offered bus rides for the duration of programming and events throughout the school year as we are committed to ensuring our programming is 100% accessible to all students who wish to participate.

“We are Leelanau Investing for Teens. We are excited to expand our reach and grow our mission throughout Leelanau County with this new development of our programming!” - Audrey Sharp, Associate Director

If you're curious about programming, you follow our social media here. We constantly post epic activities in which our teens have the opportunity to take part.

Leadership Classes at Leland

As we expand throughout Leelanau County, we plan to expand LIFT Programming to Leland Schools in the 2024-2025 school year. This upcoming year we will begin outreach and relationship-building to learn what teens and their families in Leland most need from our program.

Our Founder and Executive Director, Rebekah TenBrink, will lead a Photovoice project with the students at Leland High School starting this semester. Photovoice is a way for youth to explore topics affecting them today through photography and essays. She will be focusing on the theme 'of hope.' Bekah will be at Leland High School every Monday through the end of the school year, getting to know Leland teens, talking about leadership and social change, and leading a local Photovoice Project.

Our goal with this project is to sustain relationships throughout the community and continue investing in the success of the community's youth. To take part in this initiative, sign up to volunteer.

Purchasing Two New Vehicles

Accessibility is the number one barrier when it comes to students being able to attend after-school programming in rural settings (like Leelanau County). As our goal is to ensure that 100% of students who wish to participate in our programming can, it is one of our highest priorities to have reliable transportation for our teens.

LIFT is already available to any student at no cost to them, and we want to continue the accessibility trend by making sure we meet each student where they are so that we can accommodate and accept everyone.

“We take the lack of transportation incredibly seriously here at LIFT. The lack of having a reliable vehicle for our students has been an obstacle we are constantly trying to overcome, and we treat this as a top priority.” - Audrey Sharp, Associate Director

As part of our accessibility outreach, we have secured the funding for one bus from 100 Women Who Care in Traverse City, and we are so grateful for their support of our programming and our students.

To help ensure that no student is left behind, you can support this part of our mission here.

Summer Programming

Last year, the Summer of 2022, was our first year offering an option for teens to take part in Summer Programming, and it's safe to say that it was a huge success. We had the opportunity to take teens on adventures, show them new hobbies, teach them new skills, and watch them learn and grow in the few short months of the summer.

This year, we plan to do the same. We will have 2-3 activities per week that are available for Suttons Bay, Northport, and Leland students. We know that for some students, summer is a time for vacations, friends, and summer jobs, but for some, it is not. For some students, it's a time of isolation, academic backsliding, and challenging households. Our mission is to offer a safe place for all teens to come together and enjoy summertime in Northern Michigan.

Our motivation behind this part of our programming is to provide students with activities they might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in. We want them to get outside as much as possible, frequent local businesses, and experience new things. LIFT makes it cost-free for our students and provides transportation to homes or a central location. We are announcing the summer schedule as early as May, so stay tuned! Subscribe to our newsletter for more information.

We're so proud of all that LIFT has accomplished, and we can't wait to see what the future holds. With your help, we know that anything is possible. So join us today and become part of something extraordinary. Thank you for your support!

We hope this overview of upcoming events has gotten you excited about supporting LIFT in the coming year. From our annual events to summer programming, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved with Leelanau Investing for Teens. If you're ready to join us and help make a difference in the lives of local teens, we would love to have you on board. Contact us today to learn more about how you can get involved.


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