There is a mental health crisis brewing among our youth. Nearly one in three adolescents will meet criteria for an anxiety disorder by the age of 18. And our schools aren’t helping. While schools are in session, high school students are the single most stressed out population in the U.S. While more than 17 million high school students go to high school everyday, youth depression and anxiety are rising at alarming rates. The magnitude of the dysfunction of our current high school model is immense; America’s high schools are failing our students academically, but more importantly, they are doing little to address their human development, including developing sense of stewarding the planet and its resources. Without a deeper sense of purpose and a strong internal compass to guide them, our youth will continue to suffer at epidemic rates.
What can be done?
Students who have purpose in their lives are happier, healthier, more engaged, and less stressed out than their peers without a sense of purpose. Drawing upon purpose development research, brain science, expert interviews and practices from native wayfinding traditions, we can redesign an adolescent education that supports students to build lives of purpose, with tools for them to develop skills and wisdom to meaningfully contribute to, and steward, our world.
How Project Wayfinder is meeting the challenge:
In collaboration with Stanford University’s d.school, Project Wayfinder has developed robust toolkit and curriculum to equip students with the skills, knowledge and confidence to become purposeful navigators of their lives. Designed to be taught in high schools, colleges and other educational organizations as a year-long, weekly program, the Wayfinder Toolkit provides a year-long meaning-making journey that unleashes purpose in students and enriches the lives of educators.
Project Wayfinder is currently being taught by 200 teachers to more than 4000 students at 56 schools and colleges. Project Wayfinder’s partners are located in 17 states across the US and in Australia, Canada, China, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom.