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New Perspectives - Jun, 1997 Issue #46

Crossing over from adolescence
Thompson Falls, Montana
Steve Fairbank, Co-Director

“Building Bridges, Inc. is a long term residential program for students between the ages of 14-18. Our students learn the basics of responsibility and accountability, be it making beds and doing daily household chores, to experiencing appropriate consequences for negative actions or behaviors in a nurturing family setting.”

“Building Bridges, Inc., uses the public school system as a part of the overall program. Thompson Falls High School is a ‘small’ class B school with a total enrollment for the four grade levels reaching 200 students. Our Tutor is a teacher with the school district and like her, the entire school system is aware of Building Bridges, Inc., and supports these students. With our requirement that the student participate in at least one extra-curricular activity such as; basketball, football, track, cheerleading, drama, band, etc., these students become high profile and gain positive attention. This positive attention leads to a positive self-esteem, self-worth and strong emotional growth. Being in the public’s social activities during the day with a strong support system when they return home, allows them to deal with ‘normal’ daily problems as well as being confronted by fellow peers and staff if signs of falling into ‘old behaviors’ begin to take place. This integration with the public allows the student to grow emotionally at a far faster rate and better prepares them for life after Building Bridges, Inc.” 

“Our house parents as well as the Director, are state and nationally certified in Chemical Dependency and family counseling. Thereby we offer a strong emphasis on drug and alcohol education and stress the importance of family support. Building Bridges, Inc., involves parents of it’s participants by regularly-scheduled communication and visits.”

The program currently (as of late May) has six students there, three boys and three girls. An emphasis is made on making the experience as close to a home type situation as possible with students encouraged to be involved in school activities and community service. Home visits will be arranged around breaks in the public school calendar. 

The program also has a summer program separate from the residential program which will start on June 21, 1997, and will contain eight females and eight males in two separate groups. 

Copyright © 1997, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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