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B.R.I.D.G.E. Summer Academy nurtures children


On Saturday, August 15, The BRIDGE Summer Academy - Balancing Relationships Instilling Dignity Growth and Empathy, held its first annual “Winners’ Banquet” at St. Phillip African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church on Ashe Street in Greensboro. The occasion marked the completion of the academy’s pilot phase of the program. The mission of the academy is “to close educational, cultural, social and intergenerational gaps through actively engaging youth with parental support in their community, at home and abroad.” In harmony with the mission, the children and youth were, indeed, winners. Awards were presented to several academy participants in the areas of Most Improved and the Dean’s Choice Award to name a few.

Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, Pastor of St. Phillip A.M.E. Zion Church and the dean of the summer academy, explained that our community must focus on building the self-esteem of young people as well as promote academic success.

The academy incorporates the SETCLAE curriculum, authored by Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu. The model provides a mechanism to teach youth the positive aspects of their cultural heritage and simultaneously increases their self-esteem and desire to excel. The curriculum can be used with 5 to 21 years-olds and culminates in 6-10 sessions. According to Dr. Spearman, there are endless possibilities that can arise from such an academy. Self-esteem and encouragement from caring adults can uplift the spirit of a young child.

The B.R.I.D.G.E. Summer Academy met Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for four weeks at St. Phillip where a free lunch was provided. A core group of lead facilitators were available for the sessions. The young participants attended various sessions and workshops throughout the day to expose them to life skills, career options, health issues and spiritual enhancements.

“A dean could not ask for more,” boasted Spearman. “The committed faculty and staff of the academy have worked together tirelessly to ensure that the students received the best the community has to offer. Whenever one takes the initiative to press beyond the norm, he or she runs the risk of being misunderstood. I knew from the beginning that the worth of the academy would far exceed my greatest expectations. If we could just reach one, our goal has been accomplished.”

During the second phase of the academy, each student will be paired with a mentor. The role of the mentor is to be with the student throughout the school year to help the young person utilize skills acquired during the initial summer phase of the program.

For more information about the B.R.I.D.G.E. Summer Academy, please call (704) 267-9017.