Louisiana 4-H sponsors mental health retreat

(04/13/22) ALEXANDRIA, La. — Following two years of adjustment and dealing with the unknown can wear on even the strongest person. For some children, it can be traumatic.

With that thought in mind, the LSU AgCenter 4-H Youth Development department recently conducted a mental health retreat for 4-H members in fifth through eighth grades.

About 50 youth from across the state participated in the retreat, which was entitled “Mystery to the Safari Retreat: Taking a Look on the Inside,” at the State Evacuation Shelter near Alexandria.

“These youth participants had the opportunity to take a break from the hustle and bustle of life and embark on an expedition into their mind to discover the mysteries in the jungle of emotions,” said Kimberly Williams, LSU AgCenter 4-H program development specialist. “The youth journeyed through the valleys and mountains of feelings — the highs of joy, the lows of sadness, the raging rivers of anger and much more.”

The 4-H statewide service-learning focus for the next two years will be mental health awareness, which is following two years of cancer awareness.

Williams said the Louisiana 4-H leadership boards, which are made up of high school students, conducted the entire program.

During 4-H University at LSU each summer, students are elected to six leadership boards, including executive; citizenship; fashion; food and fitness; shooting sports; and science, engineering and technology.

The boards assist with the development of educational programs that provide opportunities for advocacy, leadership and a youth voice on a statewide level, Williams said.

“Applicants must be currently enrolled in 4-H and classified in the ninth to 12th grades for the year that they serve,” she said.

The retreat participants had an opportunity to hear from Kara Clark, a licensed clinical social worker with more than 20 years of experience in mental health in Louisiana and Texas.

Clark currently works in an acute inpatient hospital for mental illness and addiction while maintaining her own private practice.

In addition to the state-level efforts focused on mental health, parish 4-H programs, clubs and volunteers are also contributing to the overall service-learning project.

Williams said the plan is to hold the retreat again next year.

Kids stretching.

Louisiana 4-H members from across the state participated in various exercises during their recent mental health retreat near Alexandria. LSU AgCenter photo

Group of students.

Members of the Louisiana 4-H Citizenship Board developed and conducted the recent mental health retreat that was held near Alexandria. LSU AgCenter photo

Female speaker.

Kara Clark, a licensed clinical social worker, with more than 20 years of experience in mental health in Louisiana and Texas, talks to Louisiana 4-H members during a recent retreat near Alexandria. LSU AgCenter photo

4/13/2022 4:21:32 PM
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