It’s 90 degrees in August and the campus is HOT. But it’s not just the humidity—residents and staff have gathered for an afternoon of fun—jumping in bounce houses, slipping down inflatable slides, competing in games and fitness drills. It’s Field Day at Edenwald, and the quad between the Edenwald School and cottages is teeming with activity. Edenwald residents Daquan and Jordan are a little sweaty, but they’re excited. Field Day is always a great time, and as the summer winds down, they are looking forward to the year ahead.

Daquan is about to start classes at Westchester Community College, where he’s studying Physical Education. He hopes to become a coach or go into sports management. Daquan’s career goals are directly connected to the lessons he learned playing sports at Edenwald. When he was on the basketball team, he learned about the importance of patience and responsibility. He also learned to trust his teammates, and to support them in return. This will come in handy as a coach, he says, because “it’s important that players come to you if they have problems,” says Daquan. He also loves the feeling he gets after working hard, on the basketball court or at his part-time job. “It feels good to have people count on you,” he says seriously, “and it feels good to earn my own spending money.”

Jordan, a very hard worker, agrees. With a full-time job at a neighborhood supermarket, Jordan recently fell behind in school, but just passed his last Regent’s exam and is on track to receive his diploma this fall. He still loves working and is excited to begin a new job soon at a local gym. “I always get the job done, no matter what. I’m always on time. I’m trustworthy,” Jordan states confidently. While at Edenwald, Jordan learned how to prepare for a job interview and compile a resume, as well as gaining the skills he will need to live independently. “I can cook on my own, and clean, and I learned how to manage my anger,” he offers. “I used to be very aggressive, but I learned how to cope.” When Jordan feels emotional, he now turns to a staff member—Ms. Wilson—listens to music, writes lyrics, or works out.

Even after a long day in the hot sun, Jordan and Daquan are upbeat, cracking jokes and connecting with their peers. It’s clear why both teens are going places. “Everyone goes through tough times,” Daquan says. “You gotta be strong to make it out.”