"Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to great places.
You're off and away. You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go...."
This story came to mind because the message is very applicable to the first group of Summer Bridge graduates. Many, if not most, of them have already experienced various challenges in their lives. These stories came out in the experiential activities we did and engaging discussions we had as we got to know each other throughout the program. The group worked together to create a safe, respectful space where everyone could be themselves while learning and having fun together. There were definitely times when opinions clashed and feelings were hurt. But, they managed to work through their differences and created deeper relationships as a result. What is most notable about this group is their resilience in the face of these challenges, and their desire to give back to their community in the future. This blend of life experience, psychological insightfulness, and community focus makes them very well-suited to pursue a career in the helping professions. My hope is that the Summer Bridge graduates will use this experience as a launching pad to learn more about themselves, pursue their interests, and create opportunities to make good choices for themselves in their lives.
Spending the summer with this group of amazing youth has been an inspiring experience for me, and it has renewed my passion and commitment to nurturing the next generation of mental health professionals. For that, I have them to thank.