The true impact of JMG can be best shared through our alumni stories.
To say Caroline Gallant had a challenged-filled youth is an understatement. Caroline is a graduate of Biddeford High School and a proud alumnus of the Biddeford JMG Program.
Caroline’s father died when she was only 12 years old. She had just completed her 6th grade year at Cape Elizabeth Middle School. She remembers being overwhelmed and traumatized, and had no idea how to process all of the events that were unfolding in her life at the time. Her father had been an enormous influence on her. Her father liked to fish and would bring her along on many of his fishing trips. She says they established a very close bond and the time spent with him are cherished memories she will always hold close to her heart. She was truly “Daddy’s Little Girl.”
The next two years were extremely difficult for Caroline. Her family had to move to Biddeford; and this meant that on top of everything she was dealing with, she had to enroll in a new school, with new classes filled with strangers. Everything familiar was gone. She wasn’t involved in sports or any other extracurricular activity. She had no social life to speak of. Nothing seemed to matter. Caroline had become withdrawn and depressed.
It was a long two years, but by the end of 8th grade, she had begun to get excited about transitioning to high school. Caroline enrolled in JMG as a freshman. She says the program allowed her to express herself in creative ways; it encouraged her to step outside of her comfort zone and to develop her leadership skills. She attended several student enrichment events; took part in a JMG presentation to the Biddeford School Committee; and, helped organize and run the program’s Annual Winter Carnival. All of these are examples of things that enabled her to demonstrate how far she had come since her father’s passing.
After feeling alone for so long, Caroline created special bonds with classmates she had known for years but had never connected with. JMG gave her a sense of belonging and value. She was able to develop into a confident leader and trusted friend. She says she had no idea how desperately she needed those things until they were there.
Caroline graduated last June and plans to pursue a career in Architecture. She says when she looks back and reflects on all that she has accomplished over the last seven years, she finds herself feeling thankful for JMG, her specialist, Mr. Heal, and all of the people who have supported her on her journey.