The Youth Resiliency Program, a new program of Lutheran Social Service in the Brainerd lakes area, will be up and running in the near future.
This program will serve youth ages 11 and older who are in need of a supportive and enriching after-school environment. It is designed as an asset and strengths based program that seeks to empower youth to be successful in life. The program is an alternative to out-of- home placement for youth, both male and female, who are experiencing some form of difficulty at home, at school or in the community.
Youth will attend the program 3 to 8 p.m. weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays while they continue to live in their home. What is learned in the program can be actively applied to their home life, school life and community life in an ongoing manner. When success is experienced or challenges are faced, the youth and counselors have "real life stuff" to discuss, think about and learn from. This process of empowerment is more productive and successful when occurring in the context of day-to-day life.
The Youth Resiliency Program has a variety of components. Youth will be involved in diverse activities and experiences during their involvement with the program. Each youth will receive individual and group counseling. Topics will cover a wide range of issues and will be geared toward the needs and interests of the group. The program will include a broad based curriculum that includes independent living skills, job skills training, school issues, chemical health, social skills/life skills, self care skills, community enrichment, and human relations.
The youth and counselors will explore this information through several mediums, including audio/visual presentations, discussion, experiential exercises, guest speakers and field trips, among others.
An incentive program is another important part of the Youth Resiliency Program. Youth earn incentives when they apply what they have learned through the program to their lives, both in and out of the program. Posters, T-shirts, CDs, pop, video rentals and gift certificates are a few of the items youth can earn.
Communication rounds out the program. Parents and other support personnel are contacted routinely with progress updates. Staff will be available for consultation or updates with the families of youth as needed.
The Youth Resiliency Program takes a non-punitive, reality based approach to working with youth. The focus throughout the program is on the strengths and assets of the youth with the first step being identifying what the youth is good at. The program will help them to develop this strength further, so it can be used in solving the problems that come with life.
When there is an issue of misbehavior, the youth will be held accountable. They earn sensible consequences that are issued with empathy, not "I told you so's." Respect is another key focus. All individuals will be expected to respect themselves and one another. Respect is constantly promoted, praised and rewarded among all people involved with the program, including youth, parents, counselors, volunteers and guests.
The youth will arrive at the program at 3 p.m. They'll have a snack and settle in with a "check-in" group. This is a time for everyone to let each other know how their day is going. After that, some students will work on homework or goal work. Others will read, listen to music, meet with a counselor or do another quiet, productive activity.
From 5 to 6 p.m. the group will have its evening meal. Students will complete chores before participating in a recreational activity. An educational or discussion group will follow recreation time. The evening will wrap up between 7:30 and 8 p.m., when the youth will be transported to their homes.
A similar schedule will run noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and weekdays during summers and school breaks.
Youth served in this program will be those with a mental health diagnosis qualifying them for services for children with a severe emotional disorder. The structured plan of services -- group and individual activities -- will be guided by a clinical treatment plan overseen by a licensed mental health professional.
The Youth Resiliency Program will complement other services for youth currently being delivered in other Lutheran Social Service programs, including Family Community Support Services, Youth and Family Mentoring, Street Outreach and Lakes Area Runaway Youth Programs. The services will take place at the site of the former Baxter Youth Shelter.
The program is now accepting referrals. For more information or to make a referral, call 828-7380.
(Spotlight on Children's Mental Health is sponsored by the Crow Wing County Local Advisory Council on Children's Mental Health.)
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.