The staff and students at Brookside ITU spent Pride month hosting a month-long fundraiser, with proceeds going to The Trevor Project. Then they capped off the month with a celebration that included great music, water balloons, and learning about the history of Pride and its importance to the LGBTQ community.
Charlie Walker, a Weekend Warrior direct care staff at Brookside, and three students from the campus’ Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) formed a small committee and led the charge. First, they needed to decide on which organization they wanted to donate to. “We had a list of a few different organizations, but we chose The Trevor Project because it’s one of the major national helplines for LGBTQ youth,” Charlie said.
To raise money for the cause, the committee chose to sell tie-dyed t-shirts and other items. And to do that, they got the whole campus of students on board tie-dying. They set up a tie-dye station and called the dorm teams down one at a time, to help create the items for sale. Ultimately, they raised $376 for the cause.
To cap off Pride Month, Charlie and his committee hosted a day of fun for the students, which began with a short presentation on the history of Pride and its significance. One of the students on the committee gave the presentation to her peers. “They all did a really good job listening and being respectful,” Charlie said. “They learned a lot from it, I believe. And they all seemed pretty interested in understanding where Pride came from.”
Afterwards, they celebrated with a whole host of fun activities. There were coloring pages and water balloons, bracelet making and hair chalk, and a big volleyball game with a colorful beach ball. And of course, the campus was decked out with rainbows.
Brookside’s GSA meets as a place for students to ask questions, learn about LGBTQ issues, and plan fundraisers and events. Charlie emphasizes that he ensures it’s a safe space for students, by encouraging questions. “When I run it, all questions are welcome. But I also make it clear that if one student asks a question of another student, they have the right not to answer,” he said. “But all the questions that they ask of me are welcome and I’m happy to explain things to them and give them more understanding about the topic.”
Ultimately, Hillcrest Educational Centers strives to create environments where students can heal from past experiences, feel safe and secure, and grow to be the best versions of themselves. Celebrating Pride in June is just one way Brookside meets that mission.
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Don’t forget to read our interview with Richard Essien, Assistant Supervisor at ASD.