The most critical component for developing and sustaining emotional health and growth in young people is positive self-esteem. Self-esteem can be defined as the awareness and respect that all of us hold for ourselves. It’s the means by which we value ourselves as individuals and as contributing members of society. Who we believe we are, and what we believe we can accomplish, will dictate everything we do and ultimately experience in life. All the trappings of wealth and material success in the world will never provide true happiness or self-esteem. Our busy, fast-paced, technologically advanced society has distracted many of us from seeking out the true sources of happiness, and this is especially true for those young people who have never been encouraged to develop their own sense of self. As a result, many teens are experiencing a wide range of negative behaviors and conditions including alcohol and drug abuse, diabetes, eating disorders, ADHD, teen pregnancy, bullying, negative body image, gang membership and suicide.

A healthy self-esteem doesn’t just happen. It’s developed through a lifetime of effort, nurturing and persistence. But where does this feeling of confidence, happiness and optimism derive from initially? It comes from within the individual, and it’s developed and formed from birth; it’s the culmination of a lifetime’s worth of unique positive and negative personal experiences that have shaped our lives. Yet for so many of us our self-esteem has been molded almost exclusively by years of negativity, abuse and neglect, so how can the process be reversed, how can an unhealthy self-esteem be transformed in order that it may serve as the basis for experiencing a happy, fulfilling life?

Brad Cook understands hopelessness and emotional pain. As a teen he found himself in a dark, hopeless place, and he was hospitalized after a severe bout of depression. He had a very unhealthy self-esteem, and no hope for his future. But over the course of many years, much hard work, and with the support of family, friends and several inspirational people he was able to reverse the process, and he’s living proof that no matter how dark it gets, there is still hope for anyone. Having been there, he’s been graced with the ability – the gift – to influence the confused, depressed, directionless children who comprise a disproportionately large percentage of today’s youthful population.

The “Trail Dreams: Essentials of Self-Esteem” workshop is designed to build on the core principles of self-esteem covered in the initial “Trail Dreams for Teens – Follow Your Dreams” program. Brad will provide the guidance and instructions that young people need in order to take personal responsibility for their own self-image, and to develop and continually reinforce their own self-esteem. He’ll instruct them in self-affirmation, establishing a positive mental attitude, and in understanding that they, and only they, have the power to change their own lives for the better. He’ll teach teens that the pursuit of happiness is an “inside job” that only they can perform, and that with self-discipline and hard work they can embark on a lifetime journey of confidence, optimism and joy.

Please contact Brad or Samantha to schedule a workshop, or to obtain additional information about Trail Dreams programs.