|Staff member Nick Cimarosti at the High Ropes Challenge Course|
Both learners and educators know that hands-on, practical learning is important for a person to internalize knowledge. Our program offers several experiential learning experiences, and many of the youth who participate in them report that participating in these experiences has helped them conquer their fears and anxieties, learn to trust themselves and others, gain confidence in their abilities, solve problems and learn teamwork.
Experiential activities are structured carefully to provide maximum learning in a safe and fun environment. Every opportunity is taken to help youth connect what is happening “in the field” with their day-to-day lives. Experience through a high and low ropes challenge course, hiking, camping and other outdoor activities challenge youth to take risks in an atmosphere of cooperation and safety. Success is defined by each youth's commitment to “choose his or her challenge,” and to step into the unknown and trust, communicate and support others.
- Promotes positive relationships and team building
- Develops leadership skills
- Teaches and enhances skills in problem solving, conflict resolution and anger management
- Fosters increased resilience, coping skills and knowledge of individual strengths
Since its early beginnings in 1965, Charles Hall Youth Services has strived to meet the needs of at-risk youth in a holistic way, working toward healing and strengthening youth emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. The agency is committed to integrating spirituality with therapeutic practices, building on existing skills and mental health specialties to include the spiritual dimension.
Recent studies support that healthy spiritual development is associated with lower levels of depression, suicide, drug and alcohol abuse and delinquent behaviors, along with later onset of sexual activity. This research, together with a recent survey of youth in our three group homes, reveals that adolescents see spirituality as a significant factor in their lives, but one which often goes unnourished. Fifty-two percent (52%) of youth surveyed responded with an emphatic “yes” when asked if they felt they needed and would benefit from spiritual life programming as an optional component of our core program. Another 10% of youth surveyed responded “maybe.”
Charles Hall Youth Services recognizes the strong connection between opportunities for healthy spiritual growth and the well-being of today's adolescents. In Spring 2007, a spiritual development counselor (Rev. Annette Pickard) was added to our program team to plan and coordinate spiritual life activities for interested youth.
Tribally Appropriate Programming
A cultural advisor (Phil St. John) serves as a liaison with tribal social services to facilitate placement and aftercare of Indian youth. In addition, he serves as a liaison with Indian families, both from the reservation and non-reservation communities. The cultural advisor/liaison mentors direct care staff and facilitates tribally appropriate care.
If there is one factor that is true of every youth who comes to Charles Hall, it would be her or his need for a solid, consistent, caring relationship with an adult – someone who is not a parent, counselor, custodian or probation officer. A mentor is a youth's guide who voluntarily comes alongside the young teenager, walking with and listening to the youth. Then, when the time is right, mentors can share special life wisdom and understanding from their own experience and knowledge base.
Our new community mentor program will provide yet another crucial piece in creating a well-rounded, relationally-based system of care for our youth. Mentor matches will strive for a “good fit” between mentor and youth – a relationship that can grow and be sustained, long after a youth leaves our direct care. Community mentor volunteers of all ages (21 and above) will be recruited, carefully screened and selected. All it takes is one, caring adult to impact the life of a young person.
Our youth are involved in activities throughout the community through collaborations with area organizations, such as United Tribes Technical College, Impact Gallery, YMCA, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and Bismarck Parks and Recreation.