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Youth learn behavior modification and self-regulation through drama
Thomas* nervously gripped his sisters’ hands as they walked into The Home’s Child and Family Counseling Center (CFCC) for their first day at the Department of Mental Health (DMH) funded psychoeducational group where they knew no one but each other. They would spend the next two weeks at the program from 9:30am to 3:30pm with 21 other kids they didn’t know, preparing for their own rendition of “The Sword in The Stone.
”Eight-year-old Thomas was a little more reserved than his sisters and for good reason. He was new to the United States and spoke almost exclusively in Spanish while his sisters had been raised here and were fluent in English. Little did he know that almost every kid coming into the building that day had the same uneasy feelings. All of the youth were entering this group not knowing anyone else and unaware they all had their own difficulties with anxiety, compulse control and behavior. But the program had the same common goals for all the children: to build self-confidence, cope with new situations, regulate their behavior, negotiate with their peers, and make new friends while working towards the collective purpose of putting together a drama performance.
Week one of the program was spent introducing youth to acting techniques and creating the scenery and costumes which would be used for the show. Each child was able to find his or her niche; outgoing children enjoyed the acting while quieter kids, some on the autism spectrum, built confidence through excelling with the art projects. A reserved Thomas left the warmth of his sisters and broke out of his comfort zone when he discovered there was soccer at recess one day. On the field he was able to find common ground and build a bond with his peers through a universal sport.
Thomas’ emerging confidence was evidenced by his huge smile and his excitement after assisting a teammate in a goal.Thomas and his teammates quickly bonded over their interest in the game. A few of them spoke Spanish at home. “Thomas, en español ¿cómo se dice…” (in Spanish, how do you say…) was frequently heard during the two weeks of the program as kids practiced their own Spanish. Thomas was beginning to feel included.
As the second week of the program came around, friendships were forged, roles for the show were given out, and Mark, a clinician at CFCC who worked closely with Thomas, scored a figurative goal when the boy asked for a speaking part in “Sword in the Stone.”Thomas was very hands on and excited about his character the Bishop. Mark, being bilingual, continued to work with Thomas on his lines as they prepared for the big show at the end of the week. Many of the older girls, including Thomas’ sisters, took on a natural mentoring role with the younger children.
Finally it was the day of the show. The room was packed with an audience of more than 75 people. Children used the skills they learned through a psychoeducational group to keep their bodies still and minds focused while playing their parts. Parents were thrilled to see the pride in their children as they succeeded in an avenue that was different from their typical educational setting. Thomas, the quiet, reserved young boy who was anxious when he entered the program, surprised his own parents by speaking his role not only in Spanish but also in English.
After the show the youth, many of whom have had previously struggled in social settings, exchanged phone numbers. Thanks to the DMH funded program at The Home, each child left with new coping skills, self-regulation techniques, increased self-confidence and a new set of friends.
*Name and photo have been changed to protect the identity and privacy of our client.
Our kids have settled back into their academic routines after a summer of camping trips, musical ventures, jaunts to local amusement parks, and many other exciting activities. We are pleased to announce Longview Farm Educational Center’s first full-time music teacher who started sharing his talents with our students a few months ago. Music has therapeutic qualities that can help with the most hard to reach kids.
Here at The Home we are committed to being an innovative organization that constantly evaluates our intervention and treatments to make sure that we are delivering the best services to our children and families. We have recently partnered with Wellesley College to research and evaluate the interventions we use with students who have histories of trauma. We are honored to collaborate with the prestigious college (my alma mater) on such an important subject.
As we begin to prepare for the winter season, The Home’s busiest time of the year, we look forward – with the help of our donors – to ensuring that each child in our care has a happy and cheerful holiday season. We have already begun our “Keep Kids Warm Coat Drive” asking for new, unused jackets to make sure youth are properly outfitted for the New England weather we know lies ahead. Our Big Wishes Toy Room will be opening its doors once again on December 1 at Legacy Place in Dedham. (See page 4 for more information).
We greatly appreciate all of the support our donors and volunteers give year round and especially for remembering our kids in this hectic time of the year.
“I don’t know if I like jazz but I feel really relaxed when it’s playing,” said one boy at our Longview Farm Campus to the school’s new and first full-time music teacher, Charles Murrell. Mr. Murrell smiled seeing his student responding to one of the therapeutic nuances of music, discovery of self-awareness.
Longview Farm administrators and staff, aware of music’s therapeutic powers, are submerging students into the culture of music through multi-faceted experiences. This includes a music appreciation class taught by Mr. Murrell, as well as playing music in the classroom, lunchroom, during outdoor activities, and by taking full advantage of the facilities’ music suite. The music suite, funded by Natixis Global Asset Management and the Music Drives Us Foundation, is equipped with drums, guitars, and other instruments which the students can use as an outlet for self-expression and self-regulation.
Earlier this fall, Natixis, who is committed to bringing therapeutic qualities of music to children, surprised Longview Farm students with an afternoon of jazz with two musicians from Berklee College of Music. Berklee students Will Lynch and Jason Roth had a jam session with our aspiring artists teaching youth new rhythms, skills, and a different way to communicate.
Mawakana Onifade, Longview Farm’s principal, is thrilled with results of the new official music program, “There are so many artists in the building.”
The Home kicked off the 2014-2015 school year by partnering with The Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators to ensure the kids in our communities had the supplies they needed to succeed. “We were thrilled to partner with The Home to distribute 300 backpacks through the Commonwealth to students in need,” said Co-Chairs State Senator Gale D. Candaras of Wilbraham and State Representative Ruth B. Balser of Newton. In total, over 1,600 backpacks filled with school supplies were given out by The Home this fall.
|New England Revolution player Lee Nguyen
hit the links to help at-risk kids.
Photo by: Melissa Ostrow
In September, 72 golfers teed up on Hingham’s Black Rock Country Club’s greens for our 20th annual Generous Masters Golf Marathon. This successful event raised $150,000 thanks to our loyal donors who attend each year and invite their friends to join in the fun! The excitement didn’t stop there. By the end of the 36 holes of golf, Generous Masters had hit the $3 million mark for its total fundraised since 1994. This tournament has been one of our most successful events since it was founded by a very enthusiastic and dedicated donor so many years ago.
October marked the 7th annual Home in One: Women Connecting for a Cause fundraiser. 34 women participated in the event at Brae Burn Country Club in West Newton. Some decided to hit the links playing 18 holes of golf while others found their flow in the outdoor yoga class. $50,000 was raised at the event thanks to the generosity of our loyal donors.
The Rite Aid Foundation selected The Home to be one of its 204 KidCents Charities. The KidCents program allows Rite Aid customers to round up the change of their purchase to the nearest dollar and designate it to one of the charities. On September 16, the foundation kicked off The Home’s partnership with a $10,000 KidCents grant which was presented at the Rite Aid pharmacy located on Salem Street in Medford, MA.
After the extended weekend of eating copious amounts of food on Thanksgiving, waiting in line for the best deals on Black Friday, and clicking your way through online shopping gimmicks on Cyber Monday, it may be a time to think of those in need on the Tuesday after Turkey Day. #GivingTuesday is a nationwide initiative to do just that, to give back and celebrate generosity.
Join the movement by helping the children and families we serve with your donation on Tuesday, December 2nd.
• Get updates by following us on Twitter @thehomeorg or liking us on Facebook
• Tell your friends and family about #GivingTuesday
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Make your holiday shopping a little simpler this year by sending your friends and family The Home’s 2015 Calendar of Children’s Art. Each month is represented by a beautiful original piece of art created by aspiring youth artists in The Home’s care. Don’t forget to get one for yourself! All proceeds benefit The Home.
The Home is the largest provider of behavioral health services in the Boston school system with clinicians on site in 42 locations at the elementary, middle and high school levels. We work with students, teachers and families to intervene at the onset of emotional, behavioral and learning problems and address systemic issues that affect student learning, such as bullying, alienation, trauma and violence.