The Bridges Project

Bacon Street Youth and Family Services provides clinical, prevention, and wrap around services for adolescents, young adults, and their families. Our services provide prevention support to empower young people to lead healthy lives, and then, if needed, treatment services that provide a “soft place to land” if a teen or young adult is struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder.

Research indicates that the transition between eight and ninth grade is taxing from a variety of perspectives including academic, psychological, emotional, and developmental.

The Bridges Project is an initiative that combines two proven strategies for youth mental health development; a focused transition program for 8th-9th-grade students and a comprehensive peer mentoring program, resulting in Williamsburg youth thriving in high school and beyond. 

The Bridges Project has two components: ‘Bridges Jumpstart’ and ‘Building Bridges’. Rising 9th-graders will be selected for participation by their middle school counselors, and upon acceptance, these students will be matched with peer mentors who will mentor/coach them during the Bridges Jumpstart (an intensive, 2-week program held prior to the beginning of school) and the subsequent Building Bridges mentoring program. Their mentors (rising sophomores/juniors/seniors) will receive specialized training prior to Jumpstart. Each pair will have a chance to participate in leadership development, diversity programming, problem-solving/critical thinking, and team building culminating with a three-day therapeutic wilderness experience on the Appalachian Trail. 

Building Bridges will sustain the mentor/mentee relationship over the course of the school year, with pairs meeting every other week to participate in structured activities together. The end of the academic year will be completed with a Bridge Up celebration.

The Bridges Project is focused on youth who often fall through the cracks, those at moderate/high risk for substance use/mental health disorders, and who may need additional support in order to succeed. Peer mentoring has been found to be particularly effective when working with this population. Youth in 8th grade will be selected by their school counselors and chosen based on their potential for positive growth and for currently present risk factors for unhealthy behaviors.