For much of the past two decades, we have found that much attention has been paid to preventing individual teenagers from getting into trouble. Social workers and counselors have concentrated on addressing issues in the lives of particular teens. More recently, people have begun to focus on creating positive self-esteem, strong personal skills, and a sense of personal values in individual youth.
But there is another level that can have a positive, potentially broader impact as well: finding ways to build strengths in communities so that all young people are supported, nourished, and empowered to grow up healthy.
The Bridge Youth Center offers the following core programs:
- Drop In: Offered every Tuesday and Thursday, 2:45-5:00 pm during the school year and 1:00-3:00 during the summer. It is designed for every middle or high school student seeking a safe place to hang out. Students play basketball, dodge ball, board games, pool, and etc. We also have great food provided by area churches.
- Bridge to Excellence: Offered Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 2:45 pm to 5:00 pm, this after school mentoring program matches each student with a mentor. Together, they work on homework and overall academic success. This program works in cooperation with Zeeland Public Schools and runs for the duration of the school year.
- Bridging Out: Offered once a month rotating on Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday, from 2:45 to 5:00 pm. Requiring a signed transportation release, this program provides service and learning opportunities. Contact Monica for an event schedule.
- Suspending Bridges: Offered when needed, students and parents make a commitment during the duration of a student’s out of school suspension, working on homework, community service, physical activity, and learning life skills with staff and community volunteers.
- I Am Third: I Am Third is a program involving our middle and high school basketball teams. These teams are put together for students who want to play basketball in a competitive environment that may not normally make the school team. We teach the idea that Jesus is first, others are second, and I am third in each activity we do. Positive peer mentors are recruited to work with younger students to help reinforce this concept and provide a steady positive influence.
- Skills for Life: In partnership with the Zeeland High Schools, this program seeks to connect high school students to local businesses with career opportunities. Students will gain first hand knowledge, seek questions, and gain experience directly from area businesses as they seek to discover their own career path.
- It’s Amazing: It’s Amazing is an interactive group of middle and high school students who are interested in exploring their faith and expanding their role in the community. Students are invited to attend after typical Bridge programming concludes at 5 pm on Wednesdays. Each week we will participate in a group activity and/or engage in a community service project. We will also enjoy a meal and dive deeper into God’s “Amazing” direction for each of our lives.
- In School Mentoring: The Bridge partners with Zeeland Public Schools to provide students with the opportunity to develop mentoring relationships with caring community members. Mentors visit their mentees during the school days, often during the lunch period. During these mentoring visits, they may meet individually or in the lunch room to support the students in various needs along with developing and meeting students’ goals.