The Next Step program team was busy this summer! Kepler, Kimberly, Quita and Andre did a phenomenal job in transitioning our in-person programs to a virtual setting so that we could stay in contact with our young participants while also keeping them safe. Together they served over 100 young people through our community, music therapy and mentorship programs. We made so many memories with new participants and young people that are already part of the Next Step community.
Our 2020 virtual summer programs:
Next Step Live
Quita and Kimberly hosted a one-hour episode each week on Instagram Live giving viewers an inside peek into Next Step. Next Step Live was a way for Kimberly and Quita to show up and try some new virtual ways to connect with seriously ill young people in our community and in the general public. This amazing duo focused on building community, teaching every day life skills, playing music and of course, having lots of ridiculous fun!
Virtual Song Studio
Kimberly brought the magic of Next Step’s music therapy program to a virtual setting. Kimberly continued to meet with our young people in a one-on-one setting where she helped them write songs, learn music and in doing so reflect on their own lives, their own self-identity, and how to tell their story that gives that confidence to move forward. Kimberly also met with our young people in a group setting where they engaged in fun jam sessions.
Next Step is committed to “not staying silent” in the light of the most recent displays of systematic racism including police brutality. The best way we know how to do this is to listen to the young people. We hosted weekly circles (hangs) for them to come and talk about what they see going on and hold space. We talked about medical advocacy with the added layer of systemic racism and implicit bias that many of the young people deal with on a daily basis.
Virtual Summer Campferences
This summer we offered our three Summer Campferences for teenagers and young adults living with cancer, HIV and rare genetic disorders in a virtual setting and they were a major success! Each Virtual Summer Campference was comprised of educational workshops, community building, and music! Highlights from our popular Summer program included workshops focused on “Mindful Money”, “Weightlifters: Skills and Tools to Cope with Stress”, and of course, “Music & Mayhem”. Everyone was in awe of the talent and variety of skills that were showcased at Stage Night. It was the perfect way to wrap up each Summer Campference!
Virtual Health Fair
Andre, Next Step’s Mentor Specialist, hosted this year’s fair in a virtual setting and the event was a major success! Our Annual Health Fair is a two-day event run in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. This year, young people, their families and caretakers, and community partners gathered (via Zoom) for afternoon sessions on mindfulness, stress reduction techniques including meditation and yoga that can be done while sitting at your desk. We also danced and engaged in competitive games, including BINGO!
Thank you summer staff and volunteers!
We are so grateful for the hard work our program staff and volunteers did to make sure we stayed connected with our young people this summer during this time of COVID-19.
The Next Step 2020 Fall program schedule will be announced in the upcoming days!