Month: April 2022

Lost&Found develops mental health curriculum for Learn & Earn students

Images of slides from the Lost&Found Advocates curriculum presentation

This spring, students who are part of Dakota Wesleyan University’s Learn & Earn Program have learned from a mental health curriculum developed by Lost&Found.

Education & Advocacy Manager Courtney Young wrote the curriculum and presented it to the students over five monthly sessions via videoconferencing link.  

“It has been rewarding to engage with the Learn & Earn students over the past several weeks,” Young said. “We know the transition to college and adulthood can be stressful, but together we can help students learn to navigate their own mental health.” 

This curriculum is an alternative way of presenting content from the Lost&Found Advocates program. The L&F Advocates program trains students to better understand and care for their own mental health, equips students with tools for resilience and advocacy, and reduces the stigma of mental health in their campus communities. Topics include defining mental health and resilience, understanding coping skills and self-care, reflecting on relationships and ways to set healthy boundaries, and how to find help or help others to improve mental health. 

The Learn & Earn program is a 16-month program in Pierre that allows DWU students to earn an associate’s degree with the option to complete a bachelor’s degree. It’s a pathway to landing a professional career that consists of hands-on learning experiences, real-world simulations, and individual and group projects paired with specialized speakers. This program does not require testing or traditional grading scales, making it an appeal to students who don’t thrive in the traditional learning environment. 

At $18,000, the Learn & Earn program is more affordable than most two-year programs in the United States. Students are matched with a professional career coach for the duration of the program, who mentors them and provides guidance and structured support. 

The Learn & Earn program allows students the opportunity to gain professional work experience in both paid and unpaid internships while earning credit/professional credentials in their desired industry. Fields of study and certification include Business Administration, Social Media Marketing, Project Management, Foundations of Social and Human Services, Data Analytics, and Insurance and Banking. 

In addition to this work through the Learn & Earn Program, two other Lost&Found student programs are available at Dakota Wesleyan University—a campus chapter, which has been active since 2019, and the Advocates program, which started in 2021.  

For more information about the Learn & Earn program, go to Learn & Earn ( 

For additional information about the Lost&Found Advocates program, go to L&F Advocates Program | Lost&Found ( 

5K in Mitchell raises awareness of mental health

A “5K for Mental Health” event in Mitchell on Saturday, April 9, drew 49 participants on a windy spring day.

The event was the final project of Adaya Plastow, a student who had gone through the Lost&Found Advocates program at Dakota Wesleyan University this year. Each student who takes part in the Advocates mental health training program chooses a final capstone project to act on what they’ve learned, and Plastow chose to do a 5K to raise awareness of mental health issues.

“This project was really dear to me because I had a friend who recently passed away from suicide,” Plastow said in a Facebook video. “This was my way of doing a dedication to him and a way of helping raise awareness that mental health is real, and suicide is real, and we’re all in this together and we can help each other out through whatever we’re going through.”

The Facebook video was put together by Shealay Smith, Miss Teen South Dakota International 2022, who also wants to advocate for mental health through her platform.

Other DWU Advocates students who helped with the project were Isabella Veffredo, Mckinnely Mull, Elisabeth Ortis, and Morgan Oedekoven.

The L&F Advocates program trains students to better understand and care for their own mental health, equips students with tools for resilience and advocacy, and reduces the stigma of mental health on campus. Learn more about the program here.

Photos by Pam Plastow and Melissa Renes