High school just may be the most difficult years of a young person’s life, made even more so when substance abuse and addiction enter the picture. Rather than vilifying this all-too-common occurrence, it is much more productive to support these teenagers in recovery and sobriety, an outlook that has been integrated into an academic setting at The Bridge Way School, Philadelphia’s first recovery high school.
Rebecca Bonner, M.Ed, MUPP, and Head of School at Bridge Way, helped open the nonprofit in September of 2011 after experiencing the pain of substance abuse within her own family and realizing that there were no local schools dedicated to recovery. She works alongside well-trained teachers who are certified in their content area and have knowledge of drug and alcohol prevention and treatment.
Members at Main Line Unitarian Church heard about the important work being done at The Bridge Way School when it was nominated for the church’s Offering Outreach program, which directs half of the congregation’s Sunday collection to a different charitable organization each month. As a result, Rev. Morgan R. McLean recently paid a visit to the school, located in Manayunk, to present a donation check in the amount of $2,336.
McLean said, “The Bridge Way School is an amazing example of what can be achieved when passionate and caring individuals face a challenge head-on. The students here are blessed to have such a supportive and knowledgeable community around them as they build lives of sobriety and academic success.”
Studies show that 80 percent of youth who return to their previous high schools after substance abuse treatment relapse within the first year, so organizations like The Bridge Way School are crucial for students trying to make a fresh start. In addition to developing tools and strategies to stay sober, students engage in rigorous academics and community service opportunities.
Bonner said upon receiving the donation, “We are still a very new nonprofit, and the contribution made through the Offering Outreach program at Main Line Unitarian Church is significant to us. The funds went straight to helping defray tuition expenses for one of our students on scholarship, and a portion of it was earmarked for our music program. Our music teacher was able to purchase three drums to use for drum circles. Thank you so very much for the contribution.”
This type of collaboration is exactly what Unitarian Universalists believe in: working with compassionate and justice-oriented groups to promote personal and spiritual growth in all aspects of life.
To support The Bridge Way School, visit www.thebridgewayschool.org/giving/donate.