With Youth Advocate Programs’ Support, College Freshman Sees Great Outdoors Dreams Becoming Reality

This story is part of an ongoing series featuring the 2018 Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. (YAP) Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education Scholarship award winners

Colin Bresslin is at his best when he’s outdoors. As he begins his freshman year at Allegany College of Maryland, where he has selected forestry as his major, Colin sees his life’s dreams becoming reality. He thanks Bedford, Pa. Youth Advocate Programs (YAP) for empowering him with tools to help make it possible.

Colin was diagnosed at age four with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). “I always was a good student; I was just very active, and my thoughts were impulsive, and I was overwhelmed with more than one-step directions,” he said. “I feel most comfortable when I am outside.”

As a young boy growing up in an urban Erie, Pa. neighborhood, times outside were few and far between.

“If I wanted to go outside and play, I had to wait until one of my parents could drive me to a local man-made park to enjoy being outside. I did not get to enjoy walking up a tree-outlined path to get to my urban retreat, but instead arrived in a steal car on tires.”

Outdoors time became even more limited when Colin’s parents divorced before his tenth birthday.

“Park time was not as much of a priority when a single mom is trying to juggle it all,” he said. “So, you can imagine how I enjoyed my time when I did get to go outside, both at recess on a cement play yard, or during my less and less occasional trips to a park.”

When he was 12, Colin and his mother moved to a rural community in Bedford, Pa. “Boy did my life change,” he said. “I could go outside and enjoy hours and hours of time in the outdoors. I started enjoying going hiking and a new life, in the woods, opened up to me.”

Colin Bresslin selects Forestry as his major at Allegany College of Maryland

When Colin stopped taking his medication in hopes to joining the military to help pay for his education, he began feeling anxious and overwhelmed. His doctor connected him with YAP, a nonprofit in 23 states that serves as a community-based, family-centered alternative to away-from-home behavioral health, juvenile justice or other institutional treatment, care or placement. YAP’s community-based programs provide mentoring and in-home behavioral health care and advocacy and support. YAP empowers individuals and families by helping them develop personalized toolkits to identify their strengths and reinforce their foundation.

In addition to helping Colin get and understand the importance of appropriate treatment and care for ADHD, YAP worked with Colin to help empower him with other life tools to meet his individual needs. One of those resources was the YAP Tom Jeffers Endowment Fund for Continuing Education scholarship. Funded largely with donations from YAP employees, the scholarship is available to individuals YAP serves as well as their parents to help them achieve their educational and career goals.

“My dream job would be to be a park ranger or any other type of position where I can enjoy being outdoors,” he said.

Kelly Weist, a YAP therapist who worked closely with Colin, recommended him for the scholarship. She is especially impressed with his openness, honesty and willingness to use the tools in his toolbox to make his life a success.

“He is motivated, an advocate for change and willing to work hard toward his goals,” she said.