More than 700 local women came together Wednesday for the 9th Annual Women Unite event in Sioux Falls. The Sioux Empire United Way introduced its plans to join up with a special program for teens.
The United Way will be funding a program called "Challenge Day," that aims to teach middle and high school kids how to deal with some of the struggles they face every day.
"Challenge Day" programs help kids cope with life's tough issues.
"Suicide. Or maybe physical abuse at home. Every one comes to school and you know maybe you think that they have the perfect life, or everything is great. But there's things underneath that people don't share that you don't get to see. And I think that's really powerful to see that," Stensrud said.
The program is a one day event, that uses games and small groups to connect students. Last year, Challenge Day made appearances at Brandon Valley High School and West Central Middle School.
One game that made a big impact was called Cross the Line.
"They would ask a series of questions and if it related to you, you would cross the line. And it was really powerful knowing that you know, maybe crossing the line on something that that was so personal, you weren't alone. That was a big part of the day. To know that there's other people going through the same situations you are," Hannah Stensrud, Senior at Brandon Valley said.
"Don't be so quick to judge. Know somebody's background or history of their lives before you're going out to judge them or critique them," Mateya Lunstra, Senior at Brandon Valley said.
It's not just the students who were impressed with the impact of Challenge Day.
Parents attending today's Women Unite event were also raving about the good things they've seen this program do.
"It's provided us maybe some empathy. It's given us the opportunity to be more open with each other. Talk about problems they may or may not be having at school, or for other students that are having problems," parent volunteer at Brandon Valley Challenge Day, Valerie Holmes said.
"My daughter and I both participating in Challenge Day, it has opened more dialogue between us. We're able to talk more openly. I can see as a parent she stands up more for her friends and maybe not even her friends. Just people in general about be the change. People have to be the change," parent volunteer at Challenge Day at Brandon Valley, Lisa Hjermstad said.
You can support the Challenge Day program in the Sioux Falls area by donating to the Sioux Empire United Way. You can find that information at their website: http://www.seuw.org/