By Lior Krancer
Dragonfly is a program dedicated to the wellness of its students. The administration, therapists, and mentors all take time and effort to support the students. However, an organization like Dragonfly is populated with young people, and one of the few reliable things about young people is that we have opinions. Luckily for us, we’re part of a program that values our opinions and gives us the chance to advocate in a meaningful way to create change incited by students. My decision to enroll in Dragonfly back in September had a lot to do with the student-driven culture here. I feel very grateful to be part of a community that honors and respects the voices of the students, and the premier example of the care Dragonfly has for its students is our Student Council.
In December, I was elected Student Body President of Dragonfly Transitions, and I’ve spent the last four months serving my community as a bridge between students and staff. When I first got here, I was aggressive and insistent when trying to make change happen here, but I realized that an oppositional attitude could only hurt the progress I wanted the program to make. The key to making things happen is to make yourself accessible to whoever you may be trying to convince. And that’s crucial. Working with the program beats railing against it, and that goes for pretty much any conflict in life.
At Dragonfly, the student council provides a space in which students can advocate for positive programmatic change. Things that students now consider basic freedoms like being allowed to petition to date other students after reaching Phase 2, were only instituted in the program after students petitioned for these changes.
Student Council is a space for students who are leaders in the community to represent our peers. As president, I worked closely with staff and students to enact changes in policy, but also changes in culture. Here in our corner of the world, we learn that while our emotions are involuntary, our attitude is our choice—and it’s contagious. In such a small community, the effectiveness of leading by example is impossible to miss. At Dragonfly, students discover the significant truth to the idea that they can create culture by starting with themselves.
Ever since I started working with the program collaboratively to incite reform, things have changed. I advocated for the vice president to have a more active role in Student Council, and now the vice president accompanies the president to staff meeting, where they both present student feedback. I advocated for transgender students to have a group separate from Men’s Group and Women’s Group, and now we have not only a designated Trans Group but also a Trans Brunch on Saturday mornings. My advocacy for gender-neutral housing options has seen a substantial shift; we now have a co-ed house option for students Phase II and up (previously, co-ed housing was only open to Phase 3 and Phase 4 students).
Being a leader in this community is a truly special experience. For some, it can even be transformative. I have seen students who had a variety of attitudes towards the program enter student council or other leadership positions in Dragonfly, and they come out with an appreciation for what this program does, and a fresh motivation to commit to their process while investing in the community at large.
I’m on my way out of the program and will soon be transitioning to independent living. I am proud of the work I’ve done here, proud of the progress I’ve seen in not just policies but the people I love, and proud of the people here who make this place so wonderful—not to mention functional. I’m proud of all the students whose growth I’ve witnessed, and I’m proud of the staff who are so dedicated to us. I feel very grateful to have been able to serve this community, and I feel blessed to be part of such a loving culture full of people who advocate for the things they believe in.
I’m Lior, and I’ve been a student at Dragonfly Transitions since September 2015. I enjoy hiking, gardening, writing, and playing video games with friends. I’ve gained a lot from my time at Dragonfly, and I hope to share some of my experiences on the blog for future students, parents, and anyone who may want to learn more about Dragonfly from the perspective of a student.