Devin came to Bridging the Gap through a court order known as Child in Need of Services. Like many students, Devin had low expectations about the program. He used words like “stupid” and “lame” before coming into the program.
“I was entirely wrong,” says Devin. “Bridging the Gap has helped me in multiple ways. They really opened my eyes to what choices I’ve made and the choices I will make in the future.”
Maggie Perez directs Bridging the Gap in Fitchburg and Gardner. She smiles at Devin’s comment “Hearing an adolescent admit he was wrong, is pretty rare, but every time we meet, we hope to open the eyes of our students to the consequences of choices they make.”
Along with student aide Samantha Coons, Perez teaches the 12-week life skills curriculum two days a week at The Salvation Army Montachuestt Corps Community Center in Fitchburg. In 2012, they expanded to Gardner one day a week at YOU Inc., a partner non-profit agency.
Devin credits the program with helping him to see his own leadership potential.
“I honestly believe if I had not come to Bridging the Gap, I would be making the same old mistakes I’ve made before. And new ones.”
Perez says that respect is a core theme to the curriculum–self respect and respect for peers, teachers and adults.
The messages got through to Devin, “They taught us how to appeal to other’s emotions and even if we disagree with them that we should handle it in a respectful manner.”
“They helped me in so many ways, not just realizing my wrongs but being able to make them right.”