When we say we are “Building BRIDGES at the Bay”, the teachers in charge of the BRIDGES program at Cypress Bay High School (CBHS) really mean it. This school year’s kick off activity was filled with team building tasks as well as enjoying lunch together at a community gazebo across the street from the school’s campus. The team building activities allowed this new group of students in the 2017-2018 BRIDGES program to get to know one another in a setting outside of the classroom.

While the main goal of the event was designed to get the classmates to work together toward a common goal, the teachers never lost sight of making sure the students also had fun. The team building activities were designed to boost skills such as teamwork, communication, leadership, interpersonal, listening, and social. By participating in the event, the students had to work cooperatively together for each of the activities: none could be done alone! The purpose of the BRIDGES grant at CBHS is to give these young adults in high school many more opportunities to develop and build skills that typical students usually don’t require to be taught explicitly.

The students in the program, for example, participated in a “Trust Walk” as one of their team building activities. Extra challenges were added in such as taking their shoes off. Of course you can imagine how hesitant and uncomfortable the students were in the beginning, but with the support of the teachers and the feedback the students were given, activities such as these only increased a sense of teamwork between everyone.

A great aspect of these team building activities is the corrective feedback from the teachers to their students. As each task was completed, the teachers would make specific suggestions, model the recommendations, and discuss the successes accomplished during the activities. Every accomplishment was mentioned, no matter how big or small, which gave students a positive outlook and make them feel good.

Once the team building activities ended, the students enjoyed lunch together, eating and conversing about the activities they had just worked on together. As the students in the BRIDGES program walked back to campus, each one felt accomplished and closer to their classmates. This is just the beginning of giving these students the tools they need to be successful in our community, in the school, and throughout the rest of their lives.