A major component of the Bridge Program is weekly lessons on social emotional skill development and long period skill practice. During weekly modules, students learn and develop skills related to social competence, problem-solving skills, autonomy, and a sense of purpose and future as they become resilient and independent learners.
Additionally, toward the end of each long period, students practice coping skill exercises that enhance weekly coping modules. These long block activities were created in hopes to move from a guided weekly module to continuously practiced and internalized skills. Activities include, visualization, guided imagery, anxiety relief, sensory scripts, mindfulness, and other meditation practices. Students currently find space on the floor to lay down or sit at a table. We have in the past borrowed exercise mats from the BHS fitness center. Since meditation and guided visual practices have become an integral and daily component of the Bridge Program repertoire, we believe it is important to invest in seating/mats that would allow the students to feel comfortable and genuinely deepen their relaxation and calming practices.
Meditation has been proven to help ease somatic symptoms related to mental health diagnosis’ including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. It has also been shown to increase one’s attention span, allow a reprieve from outside trauma and/or stress, create a better sense of self-awareness and self-regulation, and create greater empathy, perspective-taking, and emotional control.
Today, we received our new meditation mats to utilize in our side room space dedicated to our students as a safe place to relax and take a break. The picture below shows our very own Scooter trying out one of the new mats!
Congratulations to the students of Simon Youth Academy in Burlington, Massachusetts on a successful year and graduation! We wish you nothing but the best and can't wait to hear about what you accomplish in the years to come!
Thanks to an amazing team of teachers for SY Academy as well! All of your hard work and dedication to the students do not go unnoticed!
To start wrapping up the end of the school year, our students in Bridge were asked write a "letter to self" as their weekly module. The "letter to self" activity is a low stress way for him to begin thinking about future goals and also spend some time reflecting on their school year. This activity also provides an opportunity to talk about the future without all of the urgency of SATs and college applications. The students sealed their letter to their future self. If they wished for our Bridge staff to read their letter, they were given the option to leave it open. Their choice! Our Bridge staff will mail the letters out one year from now and surprise the students when they least expect it! Our hope is for the students to see how far they have come and evaluate their goals and future path.
The Bridge staff and students went on their semi-annual Bridge Field Trip last week to the Boston Rock Gym in Woburn, MA! This was our first time going to the rock gym and it definitely will not be the last!! The goal of our field trips are to allow students to build rapport, challenge themselves, problem-solve, and of course, have fun.
Below are some pictures from the field trip last week. We are really proud of out students for taking risks, challenging themselves, and encouraging and supporting their classmates to push themselves!
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.
Are you mindful or mind full? Do you savor life or let everyday stresses control you? In other words, how mindful are you? Take the quiz attached to learn more about what mindfulness is, how much you currently practice it, and how you can promote more mindfulness in your life.
This month's modules focus on healthy eating and how it not only benefits physical health, but mental health as well. Our goal is for students to grasp a better understanding of the basic ideas and principles of what a "good" diet looks like and how food affects the body. According to Dr. Selhub (2018), our brain is always "on" and is in charge of our thoughts, movements, breathing, senses, etc.., which in turn, requires a lot of fuel to keep "running." The fuel that we require, comes from our food intake. Therefore, the food we eat makes a difference in how our brain runs.
Dr. Selhub compares our brains to expensive cars. Just like an expensive car, our brain functions best when it receives its optimal fuel. Eating high-quality foods that contain vitamins and minerals nourishes the brain, protects it from stress, and keeps it running.
We asked our students to describe their favorite meal and share whether or not they felt it was a healthy food. The following link was shared to the students of a TED talk explaining how the food you eat affects your brain. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyQY8a-ng6g
After the video, we asked students to explain what a balanced diet means, including proteins, fats, carbohydrates (whole grains and legumes), and hydration. With this information, students were asked to provide examples of what is considered a healthy balanced diet.
Students were given 4 empty plates. On each plate, students created meals for the day. (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack). On the back of each plate, students calculated total calories and which food groups they ate). Take a look at how they came out!
This month, our module theme is centered around family dynamics and the different roles we each play within a family. Families are not democracies. Each family has its own ways of deciding who has the power and authority within the family unit, and which rights, privileges, obligations, and roles are assigned to each family member. What are examples of roles? (think: provider, $ maker, housekeeper, cleans, cooks, makes decisions, etc).
During the module, each student was given a card with the following question: "What do you like best about your family?" There were a number of responses throughout the day reflecting different outlooks of family and when their family is at their best.
Our favorite modules are the modules that include FOOD! We placed a napkin and a small donut in front of each student. They were not able to eat or touch the donut during the exercise. The students were asked to describe the donut to someone who has never seen one. Most students explained the hole in the middle of their donut as part of their description. In this exercise, the hole in the donut represents all of the things we see wrong in our families, we tend to focus on the missing or negative parts first - and we are all guilty of that at some point in our lives!
The majority of the students shared that the best part of the donut is the cake... and that there is a lot more cake than there is hole! We discussed that in our homes, we need to look for the positive things happening. The students are part of the cake, and that is the part that really counts! We tend to find what we look for. Isn't it better to focus on what you have instead of what is missing and/or something you can't change? A positive outlook can change the entire mood of a home and/or the people who live there! What we really need to enjoy about our families is not the HOLE but the WHOLE!
Before you start the test, take a long, deep breath and slowly exhale.
Carefully read all of the directions before beginning the test so that you understand what to do.
Be confident and do NOT panic.
Quickly survey the entire test and decide how much time you will spend on each section.
If some questions are worth more points than others, they deserve more of your attention.
Before you even look at the test questions, turn the test paper over and take a moment to write down the formulas, definitions, and major ideas that you have been studying. (Helps to provide quick access to the information while you are taking the test).
Expect that you will be puzzled by some questions.
If different sections consist of different types of questions (multiple choice, short answer, essay, etc.), complete the types of questions that you are most comfortable with first.
Remind yourself that you will be okay and that you do know the material and can do well on the test.
Stay and check your work for errors.
Reread the directions one last time
If you are using an answer sheet, make sure that all of the bubbles are filled in accurately.
Scented Slime for Your Calming Boxes
Since this slime is extremely resistant and thick it provides a great deal of deep pressure and joint compression. As you squeeze, fold, roll, and even pull the slime, you are sending signals to your brain that are calming and organizing! Much like chores, brain breaks and simple daily tasks; playing with slime is actually calming and can increase focus. While you twist, turn and roll the slime in your hands, your mind is almost immediately taken off guard. By providing a sensory stimulus, your brain is now thinking that you are not in danger and there is no reason to be stressed and alarmed.
By adding in pure essential oils, you are enhancing the calming effect of the slime itself! There are many essential oils that will help you be calm and focus. By adding these, you are getting the benefits of the olfactory system as well as the tactile input.
What do you think a “Calming Box” is and what is it’s purpose/function?
This month, during our modules, the students are creating their own Calming Boxes. Creating “Calming Boxes” provides us with opportunity to create a tangible resource of objects that serve to distract and self-soothe us in times of distress. It is one thing to think about something, but another to provide a tangible object that is especially helpful in times of emotional upset. These objects are used to give immediate comfort and can serve as a distraction.
Today we will be focusing on the sense of touch. We will be making Rice Socks. Rice socks are used to treat both muscle pains and stress. When heated, they are a more effective tool for calming and relaxation.
Directions for making a Rice Sock
Fill sock with 1.5-2 cups of rice
Tie the end of the sock or secure with a rubber band
Place in microwave for 2-3 minutes (optional)
Throughout this month’s modules, we will focus on items or objects to add to your “Calming Boxes”. Each will have to do with one of the 5 senses. Some senses may be repeated.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
The Bridge Program: Burlington High School