The Bridge Youth Center is devoted to creating a support system for the kids in the Holland and Zeeland area. We exist to aid in the formation of peer and inter-generational relationships focused on increasing academic, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. We aim to provide kids with a safe place and nurturing community that supports and encourages them in ways they need it most
LEVELS OF CONNECTION
We have created programs that establish relationships on three different levels of connection, in order to create our community and fulfill our mission. With our vision in mind, these programs have established relationships between students and between the volunteers.
A large group setting where volunteers and kids form relationships in a larger community and provide impact through physical activity, conversational space, and career, emotional, or spiritual exploration.
A small group of volunteers and students that build consistent, positive relationships based on openness and mutual trust, and focused on developing healthy attitudes about themselves and their community.
A one-on-one relationship between mentor and mentee where they both invest in and are open with each other by having deeper conversations and being an important part of a strong support system, both in and out of school.
Programs that focus on community building often occur in larger group settings. Drop-In, our Tuesday and Thursday program, involves games, time in the gym, and overall free time for our students. Students and Volunteers are able to build connections with a variety of people, spending time casually with each other. We also offer our Skills for Life trips. These trips introduce students to the opportunities that are in our community after they graduate from high school. Both of these programs aim at introducing students to the community that is around them. We also offer summer programming, both on site and off site. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we offer Drop-In, and on Wednesdays we do off site trips. These trips include Binder Park, Rosy Mound, and even a three day camp.
Smaller group settings allow our students and volunteers to build on their connections and develop a deeper understanding. They focus on building a smaller community that focuses on growing together and starting to understand their role in our community. Bridge to Excellence puts a small group of students with a mentor to work on homework while also developing a trusting relationship. This Monday and Wednesday program works to start creating deep bonds. We also offer our Wednesday youth group, It's Amazing, where students are encouraged to develop a deeper understanding of their faith within a smaller group setting. Once a month, we also take part in a service project. Bridging Out allows our students to begin to understand their role in the community while also giving back to the people who make our programs possible. We are also starting up a new program, referred to as the Community Garden, that allows a small group of students to gain experience working on a CSA farm. This program will meet early on Monday mornings throughout the summer, with more dates being added in the fall and spring.
Our one-on-one relationships are for those who are looking for a deeper way to connect volunteers with students. These opportunities present themselves in the form of Bridge to Excellence, but also through our behind the scenes programs. In-school mentoring allows volunteers to go in to the schools in our community to eat lunch and mentor students one-on-one. This is an opportunity that many don't know about, but is available to all. We also have a Suspending Bridges program where suspended students can come to us during their normal school hours and get caught up on what they are missing. This program also provides our students with an opportunity to give back to the community and find the additional support they may need.