Can you believe summer is already over? It is already the third week of school for the young people in our programs. Back-to-school jitters are beginning to fade and youth and their families are settling into another period of growth and exploration.
It has been an exciting summer here at Second Story. Our Safe Youth Projects and Teen Center spent their days learning and playing, going on field trips and hearing from community leaders about important issues like bullying and self-esteem. Residents at the teen shelter had opportunities to participate in engaging activities like going to the movies, experiencing a craft lesson from a member of the Northern Virginia Handcrafter’s Guild, and even attending a Potomac Nationals baseball game. Our administrative team moved to a new office, allowing for more space and chances to collaborate with each other. We finished the summer season with a back-to-school drive, where we had the opportunity to provide more than 700 backpacks filled with school supplies to low-income families and celebrate the new school year with a day of face-painting, socializing, and great food. We love watching the young people in our programs learn more about themselves and the world around them, and we’re there to help as they confront each new challenge. We serve as another set of listening ears, watchful eyes, and helping hands for these young people, giving parents with language barriers or time-conflicting jobs a sense of peace and kids a confidence boost.
We provide important intervention for homeless youth during the school year, too. Academics and expectations can be stressful for the most supported student, but young people without a safe place to stay face a unique set of challenges. While other students prepare for the SATs, they are searching for a place to stay. While their peers juggle after school activities they’re working to feed themselves. Homeless high school students are more than twice as likely to go to school hungry than their housed peers. Only 23% of homeless adolescents get enough sleep each night and about a quarter of homeless high school students are bullied — twice the rate of housed students. We work closely with school counselors and the local police to interfere early, helping with long-term housing through Second Story for Homeless Youth and temporary shelter and counseling through Second Story for Teens in Crisis.
We, too, have back-to-school jitters — excited ones. A new school year should be an exciting moment in any child’s life, so we seek to ensure that every young person in our community can face this season with the resources to succeed.
CEO, Second Story