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Proud 2 Be Me

Washington Writers Academy

2011-12 Program Highlights
2010-11 Program Highlights
2008-09 Program Highlights

Located in Kalamazoo, Mich., Proud 2 Be Me (P2BM) is one of Turn 2's signature programs. The goal of Proud 2 Be Me is to provide fourth, fifth and sixth graders with the opportunity to increase their ability to withstand the pressure to use drugs and alcohol. For the past seven years, the Proud 2 Be Me Program at Washington Writers Academy has served an average of 15 students each year. Children participate in enrichment activities, study life lessons and develop leadership skills that help keep them healthy as they grow into young adults. The P2BM program provides opportunities for students to grow academically, remain physically fit, work with other Kalamazoo community organizations and receive mentoring from other Turn 2 signature programs, including the Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders and Youth in Action.

2009-10 Program Highlights

MAY 2010

The P2BM-Washington students continued to take part in many exciting activities throughout May. During one session, a nutritionist from the local YMCA visited and discussed the importance of eating healthy and taking care of your body. She taught the students new exercises to help keep them in good shape. As the school year came to an end, the students closed out their final Taekwondo classes. Due to the determination and commitment from the students throughout the year, they all earned a yellow belt and one even made it to a purple belt. It was the best year of Taekwondo yet!

The students also enjoyed participating in many end-of-the-year field trips. One trip included a visit to Lake Village Homestead Farm with the rest of Turn 2's Kalamazoo programs. The visit gave them the opportunity to once again see their monthly mentors, the Jeter's Leaders, and take part in a true farm experience. They saw the animals on the farm while on a hayride, petted goats and pigs during a walking tour, and even rode the horses with assistance of the Jeter's Leaders.

The program ended with a field trip to Air Way Lanes. The students were able to practice their bowling skills, drive bumper cars and play a few rounds of laser tag. The friendships that were formed during the year were truly on display.

APRIL 2010

After the week-long spring recess, the P2BM-Washington students were looking forward to another trip -- their first overnight adventure to Camp Copeneconic in Flint, Mich. The students spent two days and two nights at the camp. During that time, they learned different ways to work together as a team, how to rely on each other in different situations, and how protecting our environment can be fun and exciting!

Back in the classroom, the students wrapped up their lessons with the Leadership Academy from Western Michigan University's counseling program. The students learned about Derek's 10 Life Lessons through role-playing, games and discussions. These were excellent ways for the students to learn the lessons in a new way.

The Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders also made a visit to the program in April. They focused on the life lesson, "Find Role Models," and led them in another game of "Finding Celebrity Role Models". This particular game focused on athletes. It was clear that most of the children see Derek Jeter as their role model. However, the game exposed them to many other athletes to whom they can also look up. They realized that although the athletes are very different, a lot of them have qualities that make them good leaders and people they can look to for guidance.

MARCH 2010

The month of March went by extremely fast! In the beginning of the month, the P2BM-Washington students began their community-building projects. To add to their outside cleaning project, they began working on the inside of the school to help make it a cleaner and safer environment. The students made flyers and asked the teachers if they need assistance with projects around the room. The students have also continued with their weekly lessons of Taekwondo and the WMU Leadership Academy.

One highlight was an incentive trip to Jungle Joes for students who had displayed strong leadership qualities throughout the month. The group also took a fun and meaningful trip to the Douglass Community Association. The P2BM-Washington program joined the other Turn 2 Kalamazoo signature programs in The Blanket Project. The participants helped make more than 30 fleece blankets to give to children in Kalamazoo and St. Joseph counties. The students were very excited to have the opportunity to meet new faces and create something that will better the lives of those less fortunate.

The Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders also made a trip to P2BM-Washington to teach the group how to line dance. The line dancing experience gave the whole group a chance to hang out, learn something new and just be goofy! It reinforced Derek's Life Lesson of "Be Serious, and Have Fun."


Teamwork and community building were the focus in February at P2BM-Washington. There were also visits from a number of guest speakers. The students were introduced to a new set of WMU counselors from the Leadership Academy, who visited every Thursday. The counselors reviewed the Life Lessons with the group in a fun and creative way. The participants also had the opportunity attend the Young Chefs Academy to make a special treat! They learned how to work as a team to create a final product for all to enjoy. Time was spent in the classroom playing team-building games and participating in Taekwondo on Tuesdays.

Twice this month, the program received a visit from the Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders. They came to Washington Writers Academy to enhance the community-building efforts in fun and creative ways. One activity, called Best Dance Crew, really got the students working together. The P2BM-Washington students were split into four teams, and given the tasks of creating a dance and the music to accompany the dance. After the creative planning session, they were asked to perform their routines for the larger group. Prizes went to the team with the most creative routine. All of the teams came up with inspired dances, and it proved to be a very successful day.


January was a great month for the Proud 2 Be Me-Washington program. The month started out with a fun incentive trip. P2BM students, who displayed good behavior, completed assignments and demonstrated leadership qualities, were invited to attend a celebration at Pirate’s Island Indoor Water Park in Portage, Mich. While at Pirate’s Island, they enjoyed water slides, pools and a lazy river. The participants were thankful for the experience and are looking forward to attending another trip in the future.

Also in January, the group participated in a large-scale community-service project. P2BM students joined their neighborhood and school in the Washington Read-In project. Participants went door-to-door on the coldest day of the year delivering flyers to families and inviting them to participate in the event.

Even though January was extremely busy with events and activities, the students maintained their on-going programming of the 10 Life Lessons and Taekwondo on Tuesdays. Many students have been able to complete the requirements to become a yellow belt!


The theme of December at P2BM-Washington was “Give Back!” Students were actively involved in community-service efforts in their neighborhood. Throughout the school day, students collected canned goods to give to the Gospel Mission. During program time, they worked on making blankets to distribute as holiday gifts. The Jeter’s Leaders also made a visit and helped the children work on the blankets. The P2BM students are looking forward to spending more time with the Jeter’s Leaders and other Turn 2 Signature Programs in March. The groups will come together at the Douglass Community Association for Project Linus, an event dedicated to making more blankets to give to those in need in Kalamazoo.

Throughout December participants also worked on two of the 10 Life Lessons, “Dealing with Growing Pains” and “Set Your Goals High.” They have been discussing the meaning of these lessons and how to apply them in their daily lives.

Joining all of the other Turn 2 Signature Programs in Kalamazoo, the P2BM-Washington students were able to take part in the Holiday Express at Kalamazoo’s Air Zoo on Dec. 8, 2009. The children enjoyed multiple rides at the Air Zoo and had fun spending time with the children from the other programs. To end the evening, the students came together and were surprised by a visit from Derek Jeter, which many felt was the highlight of the party. As the party ended and the groups gathered to head home, each student received a chance to say hello to Derek. Students also received a special holiday gift bag from Turn 2 filled with goodies from the Foundation’s sponsors and the New York Yankees.


Due to increased demand and need, P2BM-Washington added a few additional students to its program in November. The staff was thrilled about the additions and the new participants were quickly brought up to speed.

The newly expanded group went on a full day trip to the Sherman Lake YMCA to work on teambuilding. Students were asked to step outside of their normal boundaries and work as a team to solve many different and difficult situations. The trip enabled the students to learn how to work better with each other and come up with new ways of solving problems.

The students also continued their regularly scheduled programs including Taekwondo and sessions with the WMU Leadership Academy students.

Even though November included a few more days off due to school conferences and the Thanksgiving break, the Jeter's Leaders were also still able to make a visit. During this session, the Leaders helped the students with their homework and then oversaw a teambuilding game focused on concentration. The P2BM students had a blast and are looking forward to upcoming visits from the Leaders.

Upcoming activities include a trip to the West Michigan Glass Society and Turn 2's Holiday Express hosted by the Jeter's Leaders at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo.


The Proud 2 Be Me-Washington program got off to a great start in 2009! With only four returning students, the staff was excited to build relationships with the new students and their parents.

The first thing on the agenda was a field trip to Gull Meadow Farm. The trip was a small retreat where the students got to know each other and the expectations of the program better. While at the farm, the students quickly bonded and became friends.

During normally scheduled days at the site, the students begin with at least a half hour of homework time. Afterwards, they participate in fun and educational activities including Derek Jeter's 10 Life Lessons, teambuilding games, and fitness activities like Taekwondo.

P2BM-Washington also began a partnership with the Western Michigan University Leadership Academy. The Leadership Academy is a weekly program that invites two students majoring in Counseling at WMU to visit the program and conduct activities that require the children to act and think outside the box. In October, the WMU students taught the children the important difference between hearing and listening.

Other mentoring activities included an initial visit from the Kalamazoo Jeter's Leaders. During their visit, the Leaders introduced themselves and led the students in an icebreaker focused on communication skills.

Although the program has only been active for a few weeks, the staff sees that the children are getting along well and will be a pleasure to work with. "We have been very impressed with the group that we have so far and are looking forward to a wonderful year!" said Mark Wilke, Proud 2 Be Me-Washington program co-director.

2011-12 Program Highlights
2010-11 Program Highlights
2008-09 Program Highlights

Since its launch in 1996, the Turn 2 Foundation has awarded more than $23 million to create and support signature programs that motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol and "Turn 2" healthy lifestyles. Learn more »

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