Teresa Speller of Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, has been running a program called S.T.E.P. Innovations that is centered around helping to build up the youth of the suburb of Raleigh. S.T.E.P., an acronym that stands for Strive, Trust, Educate, and Pursue, focuses on learning and enrichment, helping youth and adolescents find the right path for their lives.
Speller had the idea for this program when she spoke to her 18 year-old niece, who presented a problem that so many of today’s youth are facing. Speller asked her niece if she was ready to be an adult, and her niece said, “Well, I don’t really know, because all I know is that my parents always told me, ‘When you hit 18, you’re grown and you can get out on your own,’ and I have absolutely no idea what I want to do with my life.” Immediately, Speller began to hone in on the fact that there must be many adolescents and children who feel the same way, and so she began S.T.E.P. Innovations.
Speller expands on the S.T.E.P. acronym, defining each letter:
S: “Strive for what you want. There’s nothing too complicated or too out of reach.”
T: “Trust in not only your own ability, but also trust in God, that he has a plan for you.”
E: “Educate yourself, because you never know what information may come into play later.”
P: “Pursue all possibilities.”
Speller incorporates various activities into her program, including martial arts, dance teams, arts and crafts, team building activities, and most importantly, Speller says, “We talk to them about loving yourself.” Speller focuses much of her energy into telling her own story of being a victim of bullying, and how she got through it, and continues to love herself, a message that too many children grow up never hearing. She goes on to say, “Let’s build our kids up to just love themselves for who they are, and just research and look and experience the world.”
Another important aspect of Speller’s program is the emphasis on locating free events that participants can attend. When asked about youth in at-risk situations, she states that young people “turn to those situations because they feel like they don’t have any other choice, or they are a victim of peer pressure where they want to be the cool kids, or they feel like if I do these things, it will make people like me.” With S.T.E.P. Innovations, Speller provides an alternative to that: safe, fun, and most importantly free events that children and adolescents can attend.
Speller is also hosting an “I Love Me Camp” that lasts a week, starting on July 20th. It is an evening camp from 5:30-8:30pm Monday through Friday at the Community Center on Main Street in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina. For more information, go to www.stepinnovations4u.yolasite.com, call Teresa Speller at 919-656-2112, or stop by the Community Center on Main Street.