Sunday, June 15, 2014

Summer Learning... Had Me A Blast! (Tell me more, tell me more...)

Summer has officially begun as RAMS kicks off its version of a psychology summer camp!

The RAMS Summer Bridge 2014 program started this week. RAMS is collaborating with the Samoan Community Development Center, California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), and The Wellness Initiative. CIIS hosts the program on their Mission St campus.

L-R: Ernest Brown, Ph.D., Summer Bridge Counselor
Danni Biondini, M.A., Summer Bridge Coordinator
Heather Truschel, M.A., Summer Bridge Counselor
Summer Bridge is an 8-week summer mentorship program for students who are interested in the field of psychology. Along with the educational aspects of the program, they are given the chance to explore many career possibilities in the helping professions. Participants of the program will experience first-hand how psychology applies to human services.

This is the fifth year of the Mental Health Services Act-funded program, which recruits youth ages 16 to 20 currently enrolled in or recently graduated from SFUSD high schools, especially from underrepresented backgrounds in mental healthcare, who want to learn about working in the helping professions. For eight weeks, the youth meet three days a week to explore what therapists/counselors do, the different paths to higher education, and the different roles in community mental health. The participants will meet professionals working in the field, including therapists, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, professors, and researchers. Each week the participants go on a field trip to further explore the themes of Identity, Helping Professions, Mental Health, Education, and Self-Care.

The youth began the week with a visit to the Fort Miley Ropes Course, where they climbed up trees, walked across logs and wires thirty feet in the air, and jumped back down (with a safety harness!) or rode a zip line back to the ground. The group bonded as they encouraged each other to face their fears, and learned what it means to trust and support one another. They will continue exploring how this relates to the work of psychology as the program continues.

Upcoming field trips include: Exploratorium’s The Changing Face of Normal: What is Mental Health exhibition, RAMS Child, Youth & Family Outpatient Clinic, San Francisco State University’s Counseling Department, RAMS Fu Yau Project, SFGH Psychiatric Emergency Services, and RAMS Broderick Street Adult Residential Facility. The program culminates in each participant presenting a final project showcasing their journey and self-discovery over the eight weeks. A graduation ceremony for participants and their families will be held at CIIS at the end of July.

Summer Bridge staff with Peer Mentors
L-R: Kaiqi Guo, Hannah Ramirez, Mike Misa

After the program, the participants are invited to join the Youth Council, the advisory group for RAMS. They may also return to work as Peer Mentors for next year’s Summer Bridge program. The long-term goal is to recruit these youth for the workforce (e.g. healthcare, community mental health, etc.). Eventually, we hope to see these youth return to RAMS as staff!

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