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Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness

4 teenagers sitting together in front of a window.

COVID-19 did not only hit adults hard, but a drastic change in schedule and socialization also affected our children. We are learning that coming out of a pandemic may be as difficult to cope with as it was to exist in one. So, we turned to our positive psychology Workforce and Community Programs Instructor, John Ameen, to create a class for the teens and pre-teens in our community as part of our Summer Youth Programs. This was not a tough task for John as he has already brought this class to the Douglas County school district with much success. During the entire week of June 7th, John will be hosting an afternoon Science of Happiness camp for ages 12-16. Here campers can learn every day strategies to increase positive well-being on a short- and long-term basis, and how to turn stress into a tool that helps campers experience more positive emotions and why mindfulness is important to our wellbeing.

John Ameen on The Concern over Adolescent Mental Health

John Ameen teaching in a classroom full of teenagersFor over a decade the anxiety and depression rates of adolescents have been rising. The COVID-19 pandemic of the last year and a half has made it worse for all age groups. People experienced economic uncertainty, upheaval of daily routines, and general sacrifices to keep ourselves and our communities safe. It has especially effected adolescents. Before the pandemic, teens already felt overwhelming stress from rapidly changing brains, social development, and pressures from school. The pandemic has worsened the anxiety and depression that has already been an issue for many. As a high school teacher in Highlands Ranch, I’ve witnessed the pandemic fatigue in the classroom. Students turn in less assignments, have lower motivation, and struggle to focus. Many therapists in the area are overrun with caseloads because more teens are seeking help for their anxiety and depression (which is a good thing). But, what can adolescents do on a daily basis to improve their mental health?

The Science of Happiness camp will provide scientifically researched strategies that can help build habits to improve their mental health. Students will learn the research behind the strategies and put them to work immediately. This course teaches students how to be more grateful, how to build more positive emotions in their life. Adolescents learn the importance of being more mindful of all emotions, even negative ones, so they can start processing them effectively. Since being offered at ThunderRidge High School in Highlands Ranch, it has helped hundreds of teens realize that they have control over their mental health and that there are strategies they can do daily to better themselves. Come join us to learn more about building better well-being and how it can specifically look in your life.

Testimonials from John’s Douglas County Students

“The study of positive psychology has changed my perspective in many ways. I think especially this year with the crazy schedules and COVID stuff, this class has made an impact. It has taught me to persevere through any obstacle and be more mindful of the things I do every day.” - Female, 17

“I have found that since learning about important ways to build healthy relationships, I find myself being more aware of things I do when I talk to others. For example, I am aware of my phone and to put it away to be fully engaged, I have been more aware of what the other person is actually saying and so I can ask more in-depth questions which shows them that I am paying attention and what they are saying is important to me.” - Male, 17

“Learning about negative emotions and how they have a good reason behind them has helped me move on from harder times or harder nights a lot easier. It has also helped me with my perspectives. It has helped me see two sides of everything and it has allowed me to be able to understand how other people feel to a certain extent.” - Female, 16