Saturday, August 1, 2015

Six Seasons of Summer Bridge

Today's guest post is from Danni Biondini, MA, Behavioral Health Counselor at RAMS who also serves as the Program Coordinator for the Summer Bridge program, which is an 8-week summer mentoring program for San Francisco high school students, designed "to promote awareness of psychological well-being and foster interest in the helping professions". 

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RAMS has successfully graduated its sixth cohort of future mental health professionals!

Summer Bridge held its graduation at the CA Institute of Integral Studies on Thursday, July 30th. The event was well-attended by the 27 graduates, their families/friends, and RAMS staff.

This event celebrated the culmination of this year's Summer Bridge, our 8-week summer program which introduces youth to the field of psychology. Funded by the Mental Health Services Act, the program recruits SF Unified School District youth from underrepresented backgrounds for an intensive introduction to the mental health field, exploring topics such as: Identity, Mental Health, Education, Helping Professions, Therapy, and Self-Care. As one parent noted at the graduation, he has "never seen a program that includes so much learning and so much fun."

Staff bring in guest speakers, lead interactive activities, and take the participants on field trips. We returned to some of our most popular field trip sites, including the Fort Miley Ropes Course, the GLBT History Museum, RAMS Child Youth & Family Outpatient Clinic, SF State University, and Psychiatric Emergency Services at General Hospital. A new addition to this year's program was a scavenger hunt to different agencies throughout the city. Participants broke into three teams to see who could visit the most agencies within the allotted time. Participants cited this as a highlight of the program! (And the winning team was rewarded with 'highly-coveted' RAMS glass water bottles.)

Summer Bridge Mentors (L-R): Sophia Padilla, Erica Kan, and Jemel Borromeo

This year's participants were a thoughtful, engaged group of young people. About half of them will be going to college in the Fall, hopefully to study Psychology, and the others will return to high school. After completing Summer Bridge, participants are invited to join theYouth Council, RAMS' youth advisory board.

We encourage participants to remain in contact with their mentors, as well as the Summer Bridge staff: Danni Biondini, MA; Ernest Brown, Ph.D.; and Heather Truschel, LPCC.  Looking forward to the future, we will be conducting research to follow the progress of our six cohorts. Additionally, in the coming months, we will be planning how to build on the success of the program.

(L-R): Ernest Brown, Ph.D., Summer Bridge Counselor; Heather Truschel, LPCC, Summer Bridge Counselor; Danni Biondini, M.A., Summer Bridge Coordinator; Yuka Hachiuma, LMFT, RAMS Child, Youth, & Family Services Clinic Program Director; Christina Shea, LMFT, RAMS Deputy Chief & Director of Clinical Services