May 21, 2024 – Wellesley Public Schools and Wellesley High School were incredibly excited to welcome Gov. Maura Healey and Sec. Kate Walsh of the Department of Health and Human Services to WHS for the announcement of a new initiative supporting students’ mental health.

While standing in the WHS rear courtyard, Gov. Healey announced an unprecedented investment in the Bridge for Resilient Youth in Transition (BRYT) program, an in-school program supporting students who have fallen behind academically due to challenges with their mental health. Using the WHS Bridge program as a model, the Healey-Driscoll Administration is investing $13 Million to establish similar programs in other communities.

“Far too many young people in Massachusetts have been affected by a growing mental health crisis that was only amplified by the pandemic,” Governor Healey said. “Every student should have the support needed to balance their mental health and education.” 

The WHS Bridge program launched in 2006 after Lindsey Yamaguchi, WHS social worker, applied for a grant that provided seed funding for the program. It was modeled after the original BRYT program at Brookline High. Bridge works with WHS students returning from hospitals or treatment centers due to emotional or medical reasons. Using a strengths-based model, Bridge teachers help students manage reentry to school by supporting their academic, social, and emotional needs by building trust and communication.

For the past 18 years, Lindsey Yamaguchi has served as the program’s Clinical Coordinator, while Adam Diliberto has served as its Academic Coordinator. They have worked together to serve hundreds of students. 

The Governor met privately yesterday with Ms. Yamaguchi and Mr. Diliberto in the Bridge room, along with a small group of current and former Bridge students and parents. Afterward, during a WHS lunch period and with dozens of students, teachers, and staff in attendance, Gov. Healey announced the new initiative to the press. 

“To all the kids out there, I just want to say, you’re awesome. You each come with your unique personalities,” she said. “It’s a little bit harder on this generation. There’s a lot of challenges for you, there’s a lot of pressure. … You’ve got the support around you, and that’s what programs like the BRYT program are about.”

Joining the Governor for this unprecedented announcement were other members of the Healey-Driscoll Administration including Health and Human Services Secretary Kate Walsh, Commissioner of Mental Health Brooke Doyle, State Rep. Alice Peisch, Wellesley Public Schools Superintendent Dr. David Lussier, Wellesley High School Principal Dr. Jamie Chisum, Ms. Yamaguchi and Mr. Diliberto, Select Board Chair Tom Ulfelder, Town of Wellesley Executive Director Meghan Jop, as well as BRYT program parents and staff.

Ms. Yamaguchi, former Bridge parents Rebecca and Steve Sullivan, and former Bridge student Annie McCauley, Class of 2014, spoke about the WHS program. [See video] “When a young person returns to school after a crisis, they are no longer alone,” said Ms. Yamaguchi. “They have a welcoming space with people to talk to when they feel overwhelmed. They have access to help managing makeup work and classes. They have hope and they can see a path to success.”

McCauley said she was in and out of the hospital for much of high school, and credits Bridge with giving her a path to graduate. She ultimately finished college with honors. “The team held so many of my worries, which allowed me to tackle school one step at a time,” she said. 

Eight schools meeting under-resourced, high-need criteria are currently working to launch their inaugural BRYT program with seed funding of $259,000 over 20 months to create and staff dedicated school-based bridge programs. An additional 25 schools will also be identified for BRYT programs in the coming months. 

Please join WPS in congratulating Lindsey Yamaguchi, Adam Diliberto and the entire Wellesley High team for serving as a model for this important new initiative supporting some of the state’s most vulnerable students.

Gov. Maura Healey Visits WHS to Announce Initiative Modeled on Bridge Program
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