Who We Are and What We Do

Building Bridges is a not for profit 501C organization that provides early intervention and intensive rehabilitation programming for mostly court involved, at-risk youth between the ages of 7 and 18 years.

The aim of this program is to act as a “safety net” for misguided youth by intervening and redirecting their lives through services that offer discipline, structure, and skills.  Since its founding in 1974, Building Bridges has grown into a multi-faceted program which includes work therapy groups, educational programming, recreational groups, sport teams, social gatherings, and summer trips.  The program provides services to over 200 at-risk youth and their families each year.

Work Therapy Groups are the foundation of the Building Bridges program.  These groups provide at-risk youth an opportunity to develop social skills, obtain work experience, learn time management and prioritizing skills.  They also improve communication skills, learn to work through problems and make good decisions, and how to work as a team.

Through the Work Therapy Groups youth perform tasks such as: preparing and serving meals to people who are in homeless shelters, training, walking, and cleaning dogs at the Animal Shelter, delivering medical equipment to people with physical disabilities, cleaning parks schools, and designated areas in the community.  These groups have played a vital role in helping our young people be seen in a positive light by their families.  Through the Work Therapy Groups, young people are given an opportunity to give back to the community, and in turn, are viewed in a different light by the public.  For the at-risk youth who participate in these groups, we have noticed a drastic improvement in their self-esteem. They tend to get along better with others, are more obedient at home and perform better in school.  There is a lower recidivism rate and minimal gang activities.  They gain confidence, a sense of achievement, deal with their anger in a more constructive way, develop coping skills and are more open and honest with others and themselves.

Building Bridges keeps are youth active during the year with a variety of sports, programs and events.  Volunteers are appreciated and much needed at many of our events.  Our kids need positive role models in their life.  Please let us know if you would like more information on how you can help.

Building Bridges Activities, Events & Sports:

• Girls’ Summer Trip 
• Boys’ Trip to the Boundary Waters of Minnesota
• Ski and Water Sports
• Kil-Kare Raceway
• Scene 75
• Valentine’s Day Party
• Halloween Party
• Christmas Party and Adopt-a-Kid program
• Hal McCoy/Building Bridges Baseball Clinic
• UD Basketball Games (boys and girls)
• Courage to Change
• Air Force Museum
• Paul Lawrence Dunbar House Museum
• Peace Museum
• Wright Brothers Museum
• Discover Museum
• National Underground Railroad Museum
• Aileron Program
• Opera at The Schuster Center

Basketball Team:  One of the sporting events Building Bridges has tried to keep the youth involved in throughout the course of the program, is basketball. Basketball provides the youth an opportunity to participate in a structured intramural basketball league with other probation units and agencies. It also educates the youth not only on teamwork, but discipline, communication skills, patience, logic, the ability to cope with loss, and the aptitude to be humble in success.

Softball Team:  Provides the youth with the opportunity to learn a new sport/recreation activity that they can carry into the future.  Most Community Based Services/Building Bridges youth have never participated in an organized baseball/softball program before playing with our program.  The youth learn the rules and fundamentals of play for slow-pitch softball. The team is co-ed, with an emphasis on teamwork, fundamentals, and enjoyment. The team participates in three one day tournaments with other probation units and agencies.

Kickball Tourney:  This program offers Community Based Services/Building Bridges youth the opportunity to compete in an atmosphere where sportsmanship and participation are encouraged.  The emphasis for the tournament is for the youth to participate in an activity that requires some physical exercise, and promotes a healthy lifestyle.

Flag Football Tourney:  This is a probation sponsored activity that provides the opportunity for our young men and women to participate in a one day flag football tournament.  This program exposes our youth to a physical activity through flag football to promote teamwork and skill building.  Youth learn fundamental football skills, rules and team concepts.  Sportsmanship, team building and physical activity are emphasized during practice and tournament play.

Biathlon:  Usually occurs 4 to 5 times a year. The Community Based Services/Building Bridges Biathlon is a sporting event made up of two disciplines, biking and a short distance run.  The object of this event is to build a relationship, spirit of teamwork, self esteem, and trust with our youth.  For the biathlon, the adult partners with a youth, and one member of the team has to bike, and the other one has to do a short distance run.  The runner has to run one lap around a country block, which is about 3.4 miles.  The biker has to bike three laps around the same country block, which is about 10.2 miles.  If the adult or their assigned youth are not athletically inclined, the adult and youth could power walk the race.  After the race, medals are awarded to the top three teams.  In addition, all participants are given a ribbon with their posted time on it.  Following the biathlon, everyone goes to a picnic and game activity.

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