“A lot of our kids suffer from anxiety, especially back to school anxiety, so we reiterate the fact that worrying about it is ok,” said Eddie Meredith, a therapist at Mercy Home. “Everybody gets worried when you go back to school. So just making sure that they’re not feeling like the only ones that are worried about it; all your peers in the program are as well.”
One of the things we do to help alleviate some of this anxiety is going through prep courses with kids the week before school starts. In these courses, we go over their syllabi, make sure they have their readings done, double-check their school supplies, and help them plan what clothes to wear.
While these courses address some universal worries most kids have, there are some unique concerns our kids are presented with living in the city of Chicago. Most of our younger kids are driven to and from school, but many of our high school kids self-transport. And with their schools spread out across the city, this usually means navigating public transportation.
“Public transportation can be triggering for a lot of guys because they’ve never been on a train or a bus,” Eddie explained. “We practice school route with them. We’ll take kids on the school route and they’ll be anxious about it because some of them have never taken public transportation. Transportation is a big independent skill that we help them learn throughout their teenage years.”