Sheri Gazitt has been running Teen Wise out of Redmond for the past four years and said she’s not planning on slowing down anytime soon.
The Redmond-based organization is essentially a one-woman show, where Gazitt partners with schools, parents and teens to make presentations, run workshops and provide one-on-one counseling to kids 8 to 18 years old.
“It is really flexible for me because it is just based on what the community needs,” she said.
Gazitt said she originally came to Seattle as the director for the GoGirlGo program with the Women’s Sports Foundation.
After grant funding for the position ran out, Gazitt said she decided to translate her skills and energy into starting her own organization, Teen Wise.
She tries to teach kids, but primarily teens, life skills like how to deal with stress from friendships, academic pressures and personal issues.
“I find that there’s a lot of resources for the extremes,” Gazitt said for issues like drug use, eating disorders and depressions. “But there’s not a lot of presentations before you get to that.”
Gazitt hopes to reach teens before they start down destructive paths.
One of the biggest pressures Gazitt said she sees in teens is a feeling that academic endeavors are the most important part of growing up.
“A lot of the pressure now for our kids is all around academics,” she said.
While Gazitt said academics are important, teens need to learn how to strike a healthy balance between work and other aspects of their lives, like enjoying their time.
And simply knowing there are other people out there struggling with similar issues is also beneficial, she said.
“I think it’s a very positive reaction because they’re happy to know they’re not the only ones going through the issues,” Gazitt said.
A typical week for Gazitt includes doing talks and presentations at schools, seeing clients and talking with parents and students alike.
She’s also presenting a survival guide presentation for parents of middle school students.
“We just cover all sorts of areas for the parents,” she said.
She’s also looking at starting new programs for new age groups, including a series called “Middle School Made Easy,” which will help elementary students prepare for middle school.
She might also provide similar courses for students entering high school and college-bound graduates.
Gazitt said she is “always listening to what the community needs.”
And for parents, Gazitt said it’s important for them to understand the challenges that being a student presents to young people.
“It’s not all about school, and that they can enjoy life to the fullest,” Gazitt said. “That is the one thing that’s causing a lot of stress for our teens.”
For more information, visit www.teenwiseseattle.com.