Turning the Tide: How Impact Youth Prevention is Breaking the Cycle of Addiction in the Big Country
In public school classrooms all around the Big Country, in Wichita Falls, and in Weatherford, drug prevention specialists from Serenity House’s Impact Youth Prevention program are delivering vital life skills to the students who need them most. By teaching students how to set goals, communicate effectively, break out of negative cognitive and emotional patterns, and build strong friendships, our prevention specialists build resiliency towards drug and alcohol abuse. They are putting into practice the old motto, “Keep them from jumping in upstream, and you won’t have to fish them out downstream.” Here is an inspiring story from one our prevention specialists:
Valerie Rosado teaches the Positive Action curriculum in towns surrounding Abilene. The following story comes from her experience at a local middle school:
In one of the classes I had two boys that were known as the “trouble” kids. One of them played sports but seemed to always be in trouble. The other was a 16 year old still in 8th grade that had pretty much given up on himself and school, so he acted out.
After my first couple of times teaching their class, the two boys were removed by the teacher because of their behavior. I was completely devastated that they were being removed from my class because I knew how much our program could help them. That day, I came back to our office feeling upset. I spoke with my supervisors and discussed what needed to be done. We determined that I needed to do everything I could to let those kids know that I believed in them and to show them what we were learning in class could apply to their everyday lives.
The following day I sent an email to the principal telling him how much I believed in our Impact program and what it teaches. I asked if it would be possible for me to meet with the students 1-on-1 to mentor them once a week. The principal agreed and was excited to know that I was so willing to help these students. The following week I met with them. The boys were a little hesitant at first to open up, but it did not take long for them to trust me. During our times together I would casually talk about subjects and principles our curriculum teaches.
One of the young men was having trouble in a specific class. We were able to talk through the behavior issues and academic issues that he was having. We talked through the Thoughts-Actions-Feeling Circle that the Positive Action program teaches and managed to get through some of his issues. Later, I talked to another teacher who he had indicated he was able to learn from – he understood her teaching in her class the previous year – and she agreed to tutor him through his current class. The question remained whether or not he would actually show up.
HE DID! He was able to start improving himself and was not in detention as much because he started believing in himself again. He saw teachers taking him seriously.
The other boy had given up on school and was in an “I don’t care” funk. Of the two boys I was mentoring, he was initially the most resistant. At first, his only response to my questions would be “I don’t know.” That began to change and we began talking about his future and what that looked like. He was getting to an age where teachers seemed to expect him to drop out. We began to talk about graduation, and he told me how much he wanted to graduate. When he told me about that desire, we set up a plan for reaching that goal and proving to himself that he could do it. He also had behavioral issues and did not want to participate in classes. At the end of the semester, the principal and teacher allowed the two students back into the class I was teaching for the last few days, and I was really impressed by how much they respected me and encouraged the rest of the class to participate in the lessons.
On the last day, the principal shook my hand and told me how impressed he was with me and how I handled the situation. He also expressed gratitude for the Impact program as a whole. Going into this school, I had no idea what teaching these classes would look like. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to influence every student in my classes, but I’m especially thankful for my time with these two individuals and the chance to witness them taking steps to turn their life around.
Every couple of weeks we will share a story from the classroom, so stay tuned for more inspiring stories like this one. Make sure you don’t miss any stories like this one by subscribing. And make sure to like this post below and share it with your friends!