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BUILDING CONFIDENCE THROUGH PLAY
"I want a speaking part in the play," said Jordan* to clinicians at the summer camp at our Children and Family Counseling Center (CFCC).
No one could believe it! Jordan came to camp in July a shy and quiet kid. His stutter and big size for a second grader made him an easy target for bullying. Quickly, Trina, a clinician who was also a counselor at the camp, assigned Jordan a part in the play which is the culmination of the five week summer camp.
Jordan is seen by a clinician each week during the school year to help him through his reactive behavior. When frustrated, he lashes out physically. Kids with behavioral and mental health diagnosis like Jordan aren’t often allowed into community summer camps; their needs are too disruptive to others. The CFCC summer camp is staffed strictly by licensed clinicians that can help children with mental issues as they arise throughout the day. Clinicians host different stations — sports, art, active games, reading, drama — which the kids rotate through. This format keeps the youth active and helps them build trust with other adults. Jordan is very close with his counselor Julian and he couldn't believe that other kids at the camp had weekly visits with him too! It gave Jordan an instant common bond with the other children, unlike at school when the kids whisper about him leaving class for "special" visits. That bond also helped him with his self-confidence; enough that he wanted to solo in the play.
7 year-old Jordan had his ups and downs at camp. He loved their field trip to the movie Finding Dory which was the perfect ending to the ocean themed camp week. But there were days that he became frustrated and upset. Luckily, he had the self de-escalation techniques Julian had work on with him, as well as many clinicians close by to help.
Without this therapeutic camp, Jordan’s mom is not sure what her options would’ve been this summer. Regular community summer camps were out of the question because of his behavioral and mental health needs and the few private therapeutic camps can run several thousands of dollars. You could see her pride and joy as Jordan recited his solo performance on his love for his favorite football team, The New England Patriots. He did not stumble over his words or stutter. Jordan beamed with confidence as he took his onstage bow at the final day of camp in August.
*All names and identifying information has been changed to protect our clients
From the President
At the Home for Little Wanderers, our work with the Commonwealth asks that we serve a parental role for the nearly 150 young people that live and go to school on our campuses and in our group homes. The term for what we are, is legally known as ‘in loco parentis’. Like any parent, we work to keep our kids engaged throughout the summer in camps, community activities, day trips, beach days, and amusement park outings. We help to teach children manners, appropriate behavior, and help them to hone their values. When I was a child, that work was called “good home training” that so many of the parents in my New York City neighborhood provided to their kids. And as challenging as this is today, we work to teach our kids the ways of the world. All things they would typically learn from their family. We do this all while delivering top quality mental health services and helping children heal.
There is no doubt that today’s world can at times be a scary place. The media produces a constant barrage of news that stokes fear and negativity: the heroin epidemic, police brutality, domestic and foreign terrorism, and war. This can be especially difficult to handle for the children in our care who have already been traumatized by abuse, neglect, and community violence. The Home’s staff works to show kids that there is still hope; that they can find happiness and security.
We’ve noticed that particularly the young men of color in our care need reassurance that there is a place in this world for them to succeed. As their “parent,” The Home developed The Young Men of Color initiative, which hosts events, conferences, and break out groups giving them an outlet to talk about their experiences and fears while learning from older male staff who have navigated the same barriers. After the horrific killings in the nightclub in Orlando, Florida, we needed to support and reassure our young people living in our LGBTQ group home, Waltham House, that they were safe; that we as their “parent” was close at hand to ease their pain and to also speak out about the unacceptable availability of assault weapons in the possession of dangerous people. Such is the work of parents.
We have seen a positive change in our boys — as they sense that we are here for them, and hope we will continue to see continued growth, skill development, and comfort as the initiative grows. And our young people living at Waltham House are in open dialogue about how to remain safe as they live the lives they choose. Like any parent, we want our children to succeed by leading full and productive lives. It’s not just our kids who need the reassurance; the world itself still has a lot of work to do. Your support, both financial and in volunteer time give us the ability to be the best “parents” we can be for the temporary time that kids live with us before returning to hopefully more permanent circumstances. Thank you for all you do.
Joan Wallace-Benjamin, Ph.D.
TJX INVESTS IN OUR CHILDREN'S FUTURE!
The TJX Companies has been an amazing and generous partner throughout our 30+ year relationship with them. They have always stepped up when needed — capital campaign for Longview Farm, annual Keep Kids Warm Coat Drive, new mattresses and bedding for Southeast Campus, and more. TJX as a corporation cares deeply about the community and especially our kids. We were thrilled to highlight our relationship and TJX’s commitment to The Home by honoring them at our signature fundraising event, Voices & Visions in May. Upon accepting the award, TJX announced a $500,000 gift to launch our Permanency Initiative! This multi-year gift will help fund our new focus of where kids are going after treatment at The Home. Lesli Suggs, Vice President of Operations says it best, “Children are most successful when raised in families, not in the child welfare system.” The Home is making it a priority to make sure permanent and healthy relationships are identified as soon as a child comes into our care. TJX’s investment in this initiative showcases their commitment to bettering the lives of children.
Photo: Tim Miner, Chief Merchandising Officer of TJX Companies, accepted an honor on behalf of all of the company's associates at Voices & Visions on May 25th.
What is permanency?
The child welfare system is not a place for kids to grow up. It is a way station for kids on their journey towards a forever commitment. That commitment may come from their biological parents, extended family, mentor, teacher, or through adoption.
WORKING FOR THE WEEKEND
Summer jobs are a rite of passage for teenagers. A normality that often kids in the child welfare system don't get but our Southeast Campus (SEC) is working hard to change that. Three youth at SEC worked over the summer; Ethan,* 17 and Xavier,* 16 are at McDonalds and Faith,* 17 is at Walmart. The application process, keeping the job, and managing their money gives these kids new responsibilities. Becca an SEC clinician says, “It gives them a sense of mastery, age appropriate control, and a way to learn things that others learn from their families; like money management.” Having a job also contributes to their treatment plans which help them heal from their previous traumas. For Xavier his job is helping him achieve a short term goal, “I’m saving for Driver’s Ed.” He just wants his license like every other teenager.
For thousands of years, people have practiced yoga as a path to mindfulness and self-care. That includes some of the littlest kids served at our Family Resource Center (FRC). For five weeks, kids aged 4 8 met to learn how to regulate their breathing and strike poses like flamingo and tree. Not only did they learn how yoga could be used as coping skills they developed new friendships. The highlight of the program was creating breath wands which kids could take home and practice their new yoga breath. Parents are thrilled their kids have a new outlet to deal with their stress and anxiety.
thanks to you
Our gyms at Southeast Campus (SEC) and Longview Farm are one of the favorite amenities by most of our kids. It gives them the opportunity to hang out with friends, sharpen their basketball skills, and burn off extra energy. The gym floor at SEC was wearing down because of all the happy feet. Thanks to donors like you and our great friends at Gymnasium Floors in Stoughton the kids have a professional court to play. Gymnasium Floors even donated their time and supplies for The Home's Logo on the court.
Mark Your Calendars
September 12: Generous Masters Golf Marathon
Black Rock Country Club, Hingham MA
Join us at the 22nd annual Generous Masters Golf Marathon. Play 36 holes while helping support some of the most vulnerable children and families in Massachusetts.
For more information, visit: www.thehome.org/gmgolf
November 12: Spartan Race at Fenway
Join ‘The Home Team’ and test your physical limits by participating in a Spartan Race with the Green Monster as your scenery. Your fundraising will benefit our 20+ programs.
For more information, visit: www.thehome.org/spartan
September 6 - December 21: Keep Kids Warm Coat Drive
Our kids need outerwear to head back to school in and through the winter. We are looking for donations of NEW sweatshirts, fleeces, rain slickers, light jackets, and winter coats.
Items can be dropped off or mailed to:
The Home for Little Wanderers