Bridge21 for me

Niamh and friends at Bridge21

We asked, through Facebook, if anyone wanted to write about their time with Bridge21. One former student, Niamh, wrote this….

During my transition year I got to take part in many programs and one of my favorites was Bridge21. At the beginning of my time at Bridge I expected something different than what I got. I expected to be sitting with people from my school listening to some adult talking and probably doing a project at the end of the week on what we had learned.

I soon realized this was not the case! I was terrified when I realized I had to talk to some of these complete strangers and do not one, but a few projects with them, like making small videos, stop motion animation and others. We didn’t have to sit around either, listening to adults drone on. We were told the outline of what our facilitators wanted us to do each day and let us take it from there. The facilitators were always there to help if we needed and enthusiastic about our ideas.

One of my favorite parts of Bridge was the very beginning. I was really terrified walking into the back room and seeing a large group of strangers. My fears vanished when we completed our first ice breaker though. The whole group had to lower a long stick to the ground using two fingers. It was so much harder than it sounds! We kept dropping it and laughing over how ridiculous the situation was. We kept talking to the random person in front of us or to either side, forgetting we didn’t know each other and the awkward feeling we all had not 5 minutes before hand.  So when groups were split up we felt okay, like we already had an idea of who everyone was and felt more relaxed . After the first day I was happy to say I already had made some new friends.

Bridge for me was one of the reasons transition year had been worthwhile. It helped us realize there is more than one way to learn about something  and other ways to measure a person’s intelligence. School only judges a narrow range of intelligence so it was nice to see a broader range.  It taught us that we need to think differently than the way we do now. Bridge21 inspired creativity and a lot of us struggled with trying to be creative because how often do we get that chance. Even something as simple as making a group name we found challenging .If you gave a class of 6 year olds the same task you would get incredibly imaginative ideas in no time, with groups of teens you’ll get “the fantastic four” after 20 minutes.

For our group projects we were given free reign with light supervision. You would think, given the opportunity, we would go back to our usual friends and slack off, leaving the work, but we didn’t. Maybe some did in all honesty but the majority wanted to keep going because we didn’t see it as work. I found that when given the opportunity to do something your own way and in a group of your peers it’s not only about letting go but holding on to what has to be done without losing track. The creative ideas we were asked to come up with drew on each person’s skill and knowledge. Like art, using computers and research so everyone got to show what their talents were and feel intelligent in their own way.

From my time at Bridge, I got the chance to step out of my comfort zone by working with other people I had never met before, offering up ideas and suggestions and talking in front of large groups of people. I got to listen to and take part in discussions that I would never have had in school and find out more about college life and what it would be like.  I loved Bridge because I had a good time there and found that I had strengths I didn’t know I had before.


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