On Tuesday, July 9, I helped lead the B-SAFE site at St. Stephens LEARN on a wonderful opportunity to go the Franklin Park Zoo. Although it was an extremely hot day, my young friend, participant S., and I walked around the entire zoo looking at the amazing variety of animals the zoo had on display.
Our first adventure led us to the lions. We watched the wisdom of the lions who also found the weather steamy and took refuge under a large tree. They refused to move, leaving participants and me unsatisfied. We wanted to hear the lions roar. While we were sad by the lions' unwillingness to move around, our sense S. and I left to explore the rest of the zoo.
We soon found ourselves with the giraffes. S. asked all types of questions of the zoo worker about the body of the giraffe and what kind of food they eat in the wild. S. enjoyed the fact that the giraffe is really tall; she wanted to ride it.
Next, we ventured to the gorilla enclosure just in time to see the pregnant gorilla mother and the silverback male. S. began telling me about “Big Joe”. At first, I was extremely confused because I have never heard about a gorilla named “Big Joe.” But, after entering the primate area, I understood!. The large silverback gorilla is named "Big Joe" and he was in the enclosure along a young gorilla and the pregnant female gorilla. This was the best part of the zoo because we felt we were able to connect with and engage the gorillas. We even got to speak with the zoo staff again, asking all types of questions. When we finished our visit with the gorillas, it was time to head back to B-SAFE for dismissal.
From the conversations on the bus and the smiles on everyone's faces, I could tell that S. was not the only participant who had a good time exploring the animal kingdom at the zoo. All the youth had a wonderful time. Big thanks to Zoo New England for making this visit possible!
By D'Andra Evans, Site Assistant for B-SAFE at St. Stephen's LEARN
Dede is a rising sophomore at Mars Hill University in North Carolina, where she is a Bonner Scholar studying nursing. (She first visited Mars Hill on a BRIDGE Scholar trip with St. Stephen's Youth Programs when she was in high school!) Dede has lived in Dorchester her whole life and attended Boston Public Schools from elementary through high school. Dede has been a member of the SSYP community for four years, starting as teen CIT (Counselor-In-Training) mentoring younger participants, then as a member of the Academic Team creating curriculum, and now as a Site Assistant helping to make sure the B-SAFE site at St. Stephen's in the South End runs smoothly. When she is not at SSYP, Dede enjoys listening to music and volunteering for various non-profits in North Carolina.