CTC students create symbolic structure
By Ken DeLaat
It was called an Experiential Service Project.
In March after a discussion with Devon Pettis of the Career Tech Center Mike Geoghan and Carol Mills of Newaygo County Mental Health (NCMH) pitched an idea to students from a number of programs.The idea was to enlist the efforts of interested students in designing and developing a project to represent“Recovery”.
Several students from a number of disciplines signed on and a few weeks later presented their ideas to Mr. Geoghan Ms. Mills, and Scott Woodside. The two concepts involved a ‘Bridge To Recovery’ and a sculpture depicting the ‘Hands of Recovery’.
“Both presentations were quite impressive,” said Mr. Geoghan. “ So much so that we accepted both proposals with the Bridge project going first and placed in the Atrium of our White Cloud office and the second project design to be built and displayed at a future site to be determined.”
The “Bridge” Project was completed in late spring with several of the involved students coming back on their own time, after the close of their respective school year, just to see to the full completion of the project.
On September 12th the students were honored by the Mental Health Board for their efforts as each spoke to what the project meant to them and their role in its creation.
We asked Mr. Geoghan Executive Director of NCMH for some thoughts on the project and those who made it happen.
“Perhaps one of the major takeaways would be the courage and transparency of the students to not only share with us their respective personal experiences of recovery but then challenging that personal message into a visible and tangible representation of what ‘Recovery’ meant to each of them. Other impressions would be the blending of students from diverse backgrounds working together for one common purpose.
“Still another impression, is again students, taking the risk to ‘stretch themselves’ beyond their personal comfort zones, whether in taking the lead on a particular aspect of the project, publicly presenting on the project or simply sharing with their peers their personal stories of recovery breaking the stigma that often accompanies behavioral health issues.
“Finally, as has been my experience so often in my professional career, I learned so much more from the students then whatever I could offer them as a professional counselor. It was a very humbling experience and one I am so proud of those students and teachers who made this happen.”
The impressive structure provides an inviting backdrop to the area surrounding the atrium as the bridge spans a river running across the open air space.
The students involved who spoke at the meeting stood with well deserved pride when applauded by the board members, NCRESA staff and others in attendance. The legacy they would be leaving would perhaps deliver more than an impressive view according to Mr. Geoghan.
“I have heard that when people notice the bridge and corresponding river, it prompts a number of questions and often leads to people either validating the words that are displayed on the side of the bridge itself or sharing their own respective story.”
As to the’ Hands’ project?
“Carol (Mills)and I hope to come before a new group of students at the Career Tech Center in October with the assistance of Mr. Pettis.”