Guest Blog: Outdoor education proved metaphor for transitional youth at Project Bridge


By Amanda Jacobson, Transition Coordinator at Project Bridge

I recently taught another outdoor education kayaking about the local ecosystem in Tampa Bay to my Project Bridge youth.

As we explored, I shared how mangroves protect against storm damage and how they become stronger over time. These trees work to protect property, wildlife and people and only become stronger and more adaptable with an increase in the storms that hit their coastline. As I was sharing and pointing out the different birds, I realized that these mangroves are just like the young men and women we work with at Project Bridge.

The storm damage represents the bad former decisions, barriers economically and socially in their lives and the process it takes to become stronger. Sometimes individuals who haven’t had an opportunity to work with our population question why they have such a tough exterior but this is simply an environmental byproduct of their development.

We paddled closer to the storm damage and I shared how the tree is rebuilding and regenerating itself. One of my youth said “it’s growing back,” which led to a discussion about how the trees are stronger not because of ideal circumstances but those that were challenging.

I admire my clients because of their strength through their storms. Not allowing their damage to define them, but rather remain a part of their story.

At the end of our adventure, a quote from Dolly Parton comes to mind, “Storms make trees grow deeper roots.”