Our History

In 1987, the Teen Advisor program was born out of the heart of one mother, DeeDee Stephens, who was burdened by what she saw happening in the lives of high school students. She saw students making extremely poor and sometimes even dangerous decisions all because the tide of negative peer pressure was simply becoming too much for them to bear. The idea formed to gather a group of teens who would commit to be positive roles models for their peers by promising not to drink, smoke, or do drugs.

These older teens, called Teen Advisors, would go into the classrooms of younger teens to talk about the decisions they had made and share their experiences on topics that affected teenagers. The goal was to turn negative peer pressure into positive peer pressure and change the lives of the students in the school, and IT WORKED! The first group of 4 Teen Advisors grew to 12, and then to 42, and the group kept growing. There were plenty of teens who were willing to stand up for the right things; they just needed to know that they were not alone and that someone their age would stand with them.

After the first group of Teen Advisors was established in 1987, the program continued to grow and expand into other high schools. The program began to expand nationally in 1992, the same year that Focus on the Family Magazine wrote an article covering the Teen Advisors program in Columbus. After the publication of that article, we received 2500 requests for how-to materials from groups all across the nation. Shortly after the Focus on the Family article, the Teen Advisor program drew the attention of President George H. W. Bush and received one his "Thousand Points of Light" award.

In 2002, our organization responded to the requests of a multitude of parents, teachers, and administrators to launch a similar program for middle schools. In response to this need, the Velocity program was born. The concepts and principles learned through working with high school students in the Teen Advisor program were applied and appropriately modified to create the Velocity program for middle school teenagers. While Teen Advisors are at work in the high schools, Velocity students are at work in the middle schools.

Velocity students (7th and 8th graders) and Teen Advisors (10th, 11th, and 12th graders) all sign contracts committing to be positive role models who abstain from drugs, alcohol, tobacco, inhalants, and sexual activities.

In 2015, we sought to meet a growing need to reach and support 9th grade students by expanding “Velocity Vets” into a full 9th grade program, known as Elevate, which was also our first program to speak to elementary aged students, talking to 5th graders about what to expect in middle school and other issues like bullying and social media. Although the decision was made in 2021 to dissolve the Elevate program and include 9th graders in the TA high school program, our Elevate years taught us about bridging the gap between our Velocity and Teen Advisors programs and the unique support that is needed during this pivotal transition year.

In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic we started innovative new project teams, SERVE, Podcast, and Virtual CRS to better reach students who we had limited in-person access to.

2021 was also the year we launched an official elementary school program, called Ignite, which started at Georgetown Elementary, then added Downtown and JD Davis elementary schools.

What began as a mother's desire for something better for students has been growing strong for more than 37 years! What began with just four teenagers in one school now reaches many thousands of elementary, middle, and high school students in local area schools!

We stand in awe of the ways Richard and DeeDee’s desire to help the teenagers she loved has blossomed into a network of support for hundreds of students impacting thousands of their peers. Their lasting legacy in Teen Advisors continues to this day and there is no doubt that Teen Advisors would not be where we are today without their godly obedience, their sacrifice, and their passionate commitment to youth in our area.