On “Sofia’s” first day at the Springfield Safe Youth Project she watched the other kids from afar and listened quietly rather than chirping up. She came day after day, and every week she lifted her chin a little higher and spoke up more often. Before long, she found a group of girls her own age and started smiling more, sharing her thoughts and feelings, and participating in activities. She began looking forward to attending the program everyday.
Just a few months later, Sofia’s mother contacted the program coordinator, Leslie, and shared that Sofia’s father was about to move out of the country. Sofia’s mother was very anxious, and she couldn’t imagine having to share such life-changing news with her daughter. Ultimately, Sofia’s mother and father told Sofia that her father was going to move someplace far away, and she wouldn’t be able to see him as often as she was used to.
As soon as Sofia heard the news, she refused to leave her house. Her heart was heavy with fear and her thoughts lingered on what life would be like without her father. She stopped coming to the Safe Youth Project and didn’t care to see her friends. Her mom and dad encouraged her to go back, but Sofia had no energy or desire to go anywhere.
Sofia’s mother called Leslie again, this time even more anxious. She asked Leslie to call Sofia and invite her back to the program — anything to cheer her up. Leslie reached out to Sofia, and Sofia listened and quickly agreed to start coming again.
The other kids were excited to see Sofia, and she slipped back into her group of friends. Leslie made Sofia a necklace and was eager to engage her in their new activities. For the first time in a while, Sofia didn’t feel alone. She was engaged, happy, and focused on her friends and learning new things. Sofia hasn’t missed a day since. The third time Sofia’s mother called Leslie, they exchanged words of gratitude and relief. Sofia brought her joy from the Safe Youth Project home to her mom, too.
Now, the program coordinator is working on finding Sofia a therapist to help her cope with her life change. The friendships and peace at the Safe Youth Project became all the more important as things at home grew challenging for Sofia. She can face each day with hope and the help of friends and dedicated staff like Leslie.