Progress and a Bittersweet Moment

We are so proud of the youth in the program. They have grown so much over the past few months. It’s amazing, and they have only just begun.

They are building friendships. They rally together when someone is having a tough time. They are exploring who they are and who they want to become. It’s a journey, and we keep reminding them it’s not the destination but every moment in-between that shapes us as people.

We talk about failure, and how you never fail if you keep trying. Mistakes are a part of life. It is what we learn from them and do with that information that matters. It’s a concept they still struggle with from time to time, because they equate mistakes with getting in trouble. We teach them to own that mistake. Be upfront and let us/ their parents know about it before someone else tells. Talk about what you learned from it or how it makes you feel, and then move forward from it. Yes, there still may be a consequence from it, but it will be far less if you follow these steps. It’s working! One of our youth made a mistake, immediately owned it, and even said they were going to tell their mom when she got there. Amazing!

Youth need spaces where they can be themselves, and figure out what that even means. They need people around them that will support them but also just listen to them. When they get that,  is when they really start to shine!

I will say we had a bittersweet moment last night. We were talking about how next week is our last week of the fall session and then we break for the holidays. The response wasn’t one of excitement, but of sadness from them. The thought of three weeks off and not being together was a little more then they wanted to hear. We reminded them we still had our once a week game-night, the New Years Eve party, and could still meeting up to just hang out, which helped a little but there was still a strange kind of sadness in the air.

It was hard to know that they would miss being together so much. It was also a moment that moved us deeply. We had always hoped that they would build strong bonds and form their own strong “community”, but we never thought it would start happening this fast. This tells us that what we are doing is working.

We have watched some of our families progress and achieve some great wins. They  still have some big challenges ahead of them, but every little step gets them closer and they have us / the other parents walking with them. Having a support web makes the set-backs easier to cope with and celebrating the wins more exciting.

We will continue to make adjustments as we go, to meet the needs of our youth and families. We will continue to grow in the best ways to ensure their successes. We will continue to work everyday to ensure they have all the opportunities they need to reach their goals. We will do all of this and more because it is the promise we made to each of them, and we don’t take promises lightly.

Seeing that it is working though was the best Christmas gift we could have gotten!




About the author: Lisa Barnett