Sixteen young adults have been praised in Parliament for trying to overcome challenges such as substance abuse and turn their lives around.
Community Minister Wayne Scott told the House of Assembly the teenagers had just completed an intensive residential scheme hosted by the Mirrors Programme.
He said they shared their experiences at an “exhilarating” welcome home celebration last Sunday at the Whitney Institute Middle School.
“The celebration was an acknowledgment of both an ending and a beginning for 16 mature, bold and self-aware young adults who identified that there was something more they wanted for their lives,” Mr Scott said.
“Each of these young adults said yes to an opportunity to transform their lives and transcend themselves beyond their limitations.
“Within the last 10 weeks, each of these young adults identified the challenges that existed in their lives — lack of self-confidence, alcohol and or substance-abuse, difficulty trusting, dissatisfaction in relationships with adults, academic failure — and make the powerful choice to look within and confront themselves to experience life differently moving forward.”
The 16 young adults involved in Mirrors’ 10th residential programme were all between the ages of 15 and 19, with Mr Scott noting that “eleven of the participants were young black males”.
“Many of the 16 participants have experimented with marijuana and alcohol, or have been in trouble with the law or been suspended at one time or another during their academic career,” he said.
“Early in the course, the course leader recognised that this group gave him permission to work with them and explore the dysfunctions in their lives more so than in any other course he has led.
“The emotional baggage he was able to address as a result of this was profound: low self-worth, depression, anger, self-deprecating attitudes, self-harm and suicide attempts.
“Once these conversations were dispelled, the course leader could see that he truly was working with and leading the future of Bermuda: persons that have the potential to become doctors, athletes and artists, among other things.
“The course leader described the residential as the most powerful delivered to date.”
Mr Scott said that over the next nine months, the teenagers would receive support from an adult volunteer from the community and would have the chance to action the goals they have said they want to achieve.
“These young people have embarked on a journey with an organisation that has proven results,” he said.
“To date, the organisation has serviced over 720 young people in personal development through its community programme, Coaching for Success, offered at the middle school level, and its mentoring programme at the primary school level.
“Since its inception in 2007 Mirrors has had considerable success, with 92 per cent of participants in the community programme being law-abiding citizens two years post-programming, and 82 per cent of participants in the process of receiving or have received their high school diploma/GED.
“The Mirrors Programme has proven that it is a worthwhile investment that Bermuda can be proud of.
“The Mirrors Programme is truly about the business of transforming the community of Bermuda one person at a time — a task which undoubtedly Bermuda is benefiting from now and will continue to benefit from in the future.”