At Gateway, we believe in the concept of sustainability from the inside-out - meaning we cannot effectively contribute to the sustainability of the outside world without first sustaining a healthy sense of inner well-being and connection to others.
Sustainability From the Inside Out
To be emotionally healthy is to live in healthy relationships with peers, family, and community. This is a process that is set into motion for youth at Gateway starting by focusing on the inside and then continuing by teaching them to extend care, compassion, and service to others and the outside world we live in.
Starting Inside: Identity Formation
We cannot effectively contribute to the sustainability of family or the outside world without first developing and learning to sustain a healthy sense of inner well-being and connection to others. This is what we call at Gateway: Sustainability From the Inside-Out. In order to cultivate a healthy sense of well-being a youth must first establish a positive sense of self and a strong sense of belonging. These two aspects are the precursors to developing a healthy self-esteem, which may be one of the most important tasks during adolescent development as it lays the foundation for continued self development, and relationship with others and the outside world.
Gateway provides the individualized support needed for our youth to explore their inner landscape and develop a positive identity. Though it involves uncertainty and change, it is a necessary task during adolescence. As part of this exploration, our team assists our youth to examine their values and beliefs regarding themselves and the world around them. Through this therapeutic process, our youth not only learn that they are actually an ever changing work in progress, but also part of an interconnected world that will care for them and that they need to care for in return. Thus, their identity is a verb, not a noun.
Building a Foundation with a Healthy Mindset
Everyone brings different strengths and weaknesses, and has to deal with differing individual circumstances. Our youth learn that they may not necessarily always be able to come out on top if they compare themselves to others, but what they can do is to always become a better version of themselves than they were in the past. This is a process, not a stopping point. And it starts with developing a growth mindset and resilience by learning how to see mistakes as an inevitable and valuable part of learning, growth, and life. This mindset provides the foundation to develop positive personality traits and coping skills.
It is common for our youth to enter Gateway feeling as if they are drowning in an ocean of self-perceived inadequacies. They typically have a history of retreating when faced with adverse situations and they lack self-confidence needed to successfully work through stress and future obstacles. By providing them with daily opportunities to establish positive character traits such as courage, drive, and grit, each youth learns and experiences how they can successfully navigate life without underestimating their ability to do so and falling back into old avoidant patterns. The goal for each adolescent is to reignite their self-confidence and then use it to further build upon and sustain the skill sets needed to guide and sustain them in challenging situations. Ample in-the-moment opportunities to develop a growth mindset and practice grit arise on a daily basis whether it is within our therapeutic milieu, academic setting, or our outdoor experiential adventures.
Examining Values and Beliefs
Prior to enrollment, some youth struggle to understand how their actions can greatly affect both themselves and that of another. They also learn the importance of seeing their intentions as well as their impact. These therapeutic discoveries, assist each youth to enhance their capacity to see beyond others' differences and learn to treat those around them with kindness and respect. To achieve this, Gateway helps youth to identify their values and beliefs and whether their actions are in harmony. They also learn how to identify and respect the values and beliefs of others. It is about developing their ability to be cognitively flexible, empathetic and accepting of those that identify with values and beliefs different from their own - to develop perspective taking and empathy in order to understand why someone may have a different perspective, and how to live together cooperatively.
Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity
At Gateway, our desire is to serve as a catalyst for our youth's transformation towards diversity, equity, and inclusion by establishing a culture of non-judgment and belonging. When youth enroll at Gateway, they quickly realize that there is an entire team of caring people there to accept them and support them, socially, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Through participation in our integrated programs, they gain understanding of the importance of inner acceptance and being inclusive of others, which in turn demonstrates how this helps us to connect to each other and share a feeling of interconnection and belonging.
Connection may not come easy for some of our youth and at Gateway, so we make sure our youth experience what it feels like to be seen, heard and felt so they can learn to successfully connect to others and to the community at large. We emphasize the importance of honoring each other's values and differences and we encourage each of them to lead a life with purpose, meaning and compassion.
Extending Sustainability Outside
Sustainability also means living toward outcomes that are positive for our environment and the planet, as well as the people living on it too, including people who are less fortunate than others. Embracing this broad definition means living peacefully, safely and respectfully, as well as being careful about our consumption of energy, food, water and so on. At Gateway, we assist our teens to be aware of the need to balance the needs of the economy, environment and human communities, by making thoughtful, smart decisions and encouraging others to do the same.
Our Commitment: Gateway is a Certified Green School
After years of engaging in sustainability efforts and integrating environmental education, in 2021 Gateway was recognized as a Certified Utah Green School. It is because of our strong environmental literacy curriculum, the depth of our health and wellness programming, our community service, and the careful attention we give to updating our building and daily processes, that we have been honored with this certificate. We will continue in this effort, and we are committed to reducing our carbon footprint in an effort to have a healthier planet. We are very proud of this accomplishment!