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Program Evaluation

This is what Teens say about Natural Highs:

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In the last 10 years, over 85% of all workshop participants reported in the anonymous evaluations that they either decided to decrease their use of drugs or stay completely clean and sober after taking the workshop.

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What leadership skills did participating in Natural Highs helped you develop?


  • Being able to talk in front of a group

  • More Confidence

  • Public Speaking/Teaching

  • Being able to lead a group of people

  • Recruitment of peers

  • Speaking my mind

  • Presentation Skills

  • Taking the lead

  • Speaking up

  • Not give in to peer pressure

  • Being confident

  • Being social

  • Stepping in where there is a need

  • Being therapeutic towards others

  • Leading large groups

  • Taking charge of situations

  • Listening well with an open mind

  • Being confident in using my voice

  • Learning how to lead discussions and activities

  • Freedom of Expression

  • Planning events

  • Leading a group

  • I was able to speak my thoughts at meetings

  • I performed in front of 40+ people

  • I became more comfortable offering my help explaining herbs and serving tea

  • Listening to the group

  • Sharing coping mechanisms

  • Sharing knowledge of helpful and healthy herbs

  • Community supporting each other

  • Giving back to community

  • Learning how to organize & promote events

  • Non-judgmental listening

  • Individual support

  • Creating an open space

  • Greater ability to share my perspective

  • Knowledge of equity to create safe spaces

  • Learning to structure classes with meaningful & interesting curriculum.

  • Confidence & Presentation

  • Nurturing others & self

  • Time management

  • Taking charge

  • Working with others

  • Talking to a group

Implementation of Positive Youth Development Best Practices

1. Natural Highs uses a Strengths-Based Approach: 
The core principle of the Natural Highs Program is to engage teens as leaders and empower teens to recognize that they have immense strengths and influence in creating a positive peer culture in their communities. The Natural Highs program often attracts teens who are at high risk or who are already deeply involved in destructive behaviors such as substance abuse or other self-harm behaviors. We train teens to become leaders who would typically not participate in other teen leadership opportunities. Natural Highs helps teens connect first and then helps teens identify their personal passions, channeling their own inspiration into service, classes, and outreach to other teens. Natural Highs is based on MOTIVATIONAL INTERVIEWING, an evidence-based practice and highly successful approach in engaging teens around substance abuse issues and mental health issues.  Our leadership model follows the Public Achievement Model where young people are encouraged to identify their own passions, interests, and strengths, and where an adult facilitator helps young people turn their passions into real life projects that create tangible change in their communities. The idea is that teens learn valuable leadership skills through hands-on practice in real-world projects (see www.
2. Natural Highs Engages Youth as Partners: 
Natural Highs is a teen-run program. The Natural Highs leadership team consists of around 25 high school students and one part-time adult staff. The decisions around our activities, classes, presentations, and the content of our workshops and presentations take place in our leadership team, with the active direction and leadership of the teens in the organization. We regularly ask for feedback from all of our participants in terms of their needs for support.
3. Natural Highs is Inclusive: 
We are open to all teens, and work consistently to include all teens in our community.  We are in close communication with stakeholders in this community who serve teens, in order to reach and address the needs of teens who have not yet connected to Natural Highs. We connect with other programs such as Attention Homes, OASOS, “I Have A Dream Foundation”, Boulder Prep, and more, to support and engage with teens dealing with serious challenges around substance use and mental health. We consistently ask our participants about their greatest needs. According to their feedback, we decide the topics and content of our classes. In our recent anonymous feedback survey from March 2016, teens reported that they experience Natural Highs as a safe, inclusive environment.  Of the 53 Natural Highs participants who participated in the anonymous survey in our Tuesday class, Natural Highs workshop and Action Group, 58% identified as LGBT and 22.6% identified as persons of color.
4. Natural Highs Collaborates: 
The nature of our work around substance abuse education requires constant collaboration with other community resources. We often deal with situations where teens and their parents are in situations of serious crisis and require a lot of support. We continuously seek to collaborate with other programs, in order to be able to connect teens and their families with the right support for their individual situation. We have great ongoing collaboration with schools, the Prevention/Interventionist program, Mental Health Partners, The Juvenile Justice System, OASOS, Phoenix Multisport, Attention Homes, Firemountain residential treatment center, IThrive, and others.
5. Natural Highs is Sustainable:
Through our partnerships and strong base of support, we have been able to expand and grow our program every year.  We have a long-term vision and commitment to the program; we are in this for the long haul.  Our success in generating peer mentors and teen leaders is leading to new opportunities that we seek to leverage.  For the last two years, Natural Highs peer mentors were hired and paid by other programs to teach Natural Highs in their programs. We’ve been able to secure a Boulder County grant to start research and evaluation in order to make Natural Highs an evidence-based program. We also received funding from Boulder County Public Health to train additional facilitators in order to make the Natural Highs presentations more available in our community, including to Spanish speaking populations. With the ongoing support our community shows for our work, we know these advances will only add to our strength and our strategic plans, including greater employment opportunities for teens and potentially the long-term goal of a teen center in Boulder.

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