By combining the forces of Bear Construction and Changepoint Learning, Building Hope focuses on both educating and empowering students. The first forty-five minutes of the program focus on educating students about opportunities in the construction and natural gas industries that may not require a college degree. We also show the young adults that these opportunities are right here in West Virginia.
The remainder of the program is a series of activities focusing on the impact of bullying at all ages. While it sounds like an exhausted topic, the program does more than just teach that bullying is wrong. Building Hope sheds light on the root causes that lead students to bully.
At 7:30am, Volunteers arrive at the school for a brief training. This training discusses program specifics and answers any Volunteer questions. Volunteers will also be given a topic card to aid in conversation flow if dialogue gets slow during small group activities. Volunteers simply need to bring an open mind and be willing to share their own experiences with students.
While the volunteers are trained, students enter the auditorium. Mr. Urso will briefly discuss his bullying experiences and the goals of Building Hope. Additionally, a video presentation on career opportunities int he construction and natural gas industries is shown.
When the anti-bullying portion begins, students are moved from the auditorium to the gymnasium (if applicable), where they will meet the volunteers. Following a few ice breakers, the students will be broken up into groups for other activities. Each volunteer will be placed with a group of 4 – 5 students.
Building Hope activities consist of team-building games, small group discussions, and large group discussions with counselors that run the program.
After lunch, we do an activity called “Step Out of the Crowd.” Students and Volunteers line up across the gym and counselors read off scenarios that might apply to their lives. If the scenario applies, they will cross the line. some scenarios may be difficult to acknowledge or face. This brings to light the complicated situations students and Volunteers may be experience daily. The purpose of this activity is to show students — and the Volunteers — that they are not alone.
To close the program, students are given the opportunity to apologize for their actions and give support to their classmates. The experience is very moving, and we want to give the students the chance to comfortably open up about the issues they may be having.