My experience on the Bridge Board has been incredible. Being able to work with kids on a positive and proactive level gives me life! I joined the Board in May 2015 and it has been one of my best decisions. So far, most of my time has been spent with the College Guidance Committee. We mentor the youth who are currently in high school and have aspirations to attend college. We create college readiness programs such as time management workshops to make their transition into college a smooth one. Once the youth enter college their mentors continue to check-in with them to ensure they are staying engaged in their studies as well as be a support system. In addition to business, we take them out to do fun things such as Whirlyball and escape rooms.
One of the reasons I joined the Board was because I worked as a juvenile probation officer and I would constantly see youth who are not engaged in any pro-social activities or have a strong support system. As I watched some youth circulate in and out of the court system, I decided that I wanted to work with the youth on a more proactive level to contribute to positive development and reduce the likelihood of court involvement. Prior to my employment with the court, I had no knowledge of the day-to-day struggles in urban areas. I have participated in a few police panels where different members of law enforcement (i.e. prosecutors, police officers, detectives, etc.) came into the Broadway Club and played with the youth. After about an hour of engaging in fun activities, they revealed their affiliation with law enforcement. By doing this, it helped them build relationships with the youth before revealing their occupation. During the panel, the youth were able to ask questions and be transparent regarding their view of law enforcement.
Another program that has been fulfilling for me is our Teen Night. Although I value all youth, I take special interest in the teens. Myself along with other members of the Board gathered at the Broadway club on a Friday evening to sit and talk with the youth about social problems, academics, current events, etc. As everyone shared pizza and refreshments, we were able to get the youth’s suggestions on programming to make their experiences in the club valuable and memorable. Once the discussion was over, we moved our fun to the gym where we played games and listened to music.
Although I have only been on the Board for a short amount of time, it has made an impact on me personally. Seeing the struggles that the kids go through but continue to thrive amazes me. I will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that I am doing my best to impact their lives.
Written by Brittni Sanders, Volunteer Committee Member and College Guidance Committee Member