Local author, small business, and school working to give graduating seniors tools to bounce back

Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — After a difficult year like the one we just had, resilience is a skill that youth and young adults need probably now more than ever. One local author, a small business, and a Western New York school are working to make sure graduating seniors have the tools they need to bounce back.

Author and advocate Duncan Kirkwood knows how much grit it takes to grow up on Buffalo’s Eastside. So, in his book, “Re-routing: Resilience Tools and Tactics,” he works at helping readers discover who they are, overcome setbacks, and face their fear of failure.

“A lot of times, people have this weird relationship with failure. They think that it’s something to avoid. Instead of understanding that failure is actually part of the journey. It’s how you find your balance. Like riding a bike, that’s really how you learn to find your balance. That’s really how life is in a lot of ways,” Kirkwood said.

He said his passion to write was ignited while serving time in the military. In 2012, the service ramped up their mental health awareness efforts once they became aware that more soldiers were dying by suicide than in overseas combat. They began training officers like Kirkwood to become Master Resilience Trainers. And, when his time in service ended, he re-packaged those same techniques and simplified them for young adults having a hard time.

Kirkwood said, “as we look across the country, literally every socio-economic class has young peoples’ anxiety, depression, and suicide rate at an all-time high. Our young people are struggling. They feel alone, they feel isolated. And it is so important right now to give them the tools to be able to persevere, the grit to be able to overcome and continue moving towards their purpose. Even in the midst of uncertainty.”

After an unprecedented year of dealing with the pandemic, Kirkwood knew that he had to do something. So, he reached out to Rachelle Nurse, the owner of Urban Air Buffalo, and asked if she’d be interested in partnering to support Western New York’s young people. She not only agreed, but she also purchased and donated over 100 books to Tapestry Charter School for their class of 2021 seniors.

“As an organization, we recognized that this could help our young people. As well as help many people young people in the Western New York area,” Nurse said.

The donation is a huge deal to Principal Eric Klapper who says Tapestry’s focus is forging a supportive community around students and families. And he’s committed to giving his students every tool they need to succeed.

Klapper said, “so, any way that we can get across a message of empathy and kindness and resilience we’ll take advantage of and so this partnership with Duncan and Urban Air is just another example of how we can do that and we can reach out to our community.”

For Duncan, he knows the life-saving power of community. That’s why he wants to make sure he pours back into his.

“Even though there are waves and waves and waves of trials and tribulations that they have to go through, especially growing up in a city like Buffalo. And so, I love the city, but there’s a lot of challenges for our youth. And so, I want my story and what I’ve been able to accomplish to just be something that young people can look to and say not only can I do that but I can go further,” Kirkwood added.

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