This summer, children and teens around the state are participating in a number of skill-building and dynamic activities. In Northern Arizona, a special group of youth are given the chance to take part in a variety of recreational and experimental learning opportunities which are tailored to their individual needs and interests through the Skills Training and Respite Program and Meet Me Where I Am. Programs like these help to stabilize families, give kids the tools needed to succeed, aid in appropriate social interactions, get the children involved in their communities, and help them learn valuable skill sets.
The Skills Training and Respite (STAR) Program offers a variety of behavioral health services to support these youth and their families. Services aim to reduce caregiver stress, and to build skills and resiliency in youth. Respite services engage youth in a variety of recreational activities with their peers.
Skills training groups focus on a variety of age-appropriate skills such as how to manage emotions, communicate effectively, develop friendships, and utilize community resources, and respite services aim to engage youth in recreational activities with their peers. STAR also focuses on individual skills training and support, including providing older youth with support in developing independent living skills such as pre-employment training, money management, or applying for college.
Meet Me Where I AM (MMWIA) is a unique service made available to families in the community who are struggling with very challenging needs. There are a broad range of dynamic and creative services available depending on each family’s unique needs. The main goal of the MMWIA program is to help children develop the skills they need to be successful and to provide their caregivers the support they need to begin parenting anew with fresh ideas. MMWIA is focused on helping families function successfully over the long–term so that when services end, positive changes continue.
Each year, there are a number of activities planned throughout the summer months to keep the children engaged. The summer programs and groups provide opportunities for both programs to participate in daytime, group activities and allows the staff to have more time with the youth. All activities are determined by the passionate and energetic staff with the clients’ input and individualized to meet the needs of the peer groups. Other activities this summer have included: hiking, gardening, games at the park, and various other outdoor teambuilding exercises. One exciting opportunity that the children and youth participated in was learning to cook with foods harvested from their own garden. Activities like these instill life skills and nutritional education.
Parents often work during the summer months and children are left home unsupervised,” said Gretchen Shallcross, program director for behavioral health. “The goal of the program is to keep kids engaged and to allow them the opportunity to experience and learn things that they otherwise wouldn’t. Many children find themselves getting into trouble and lack the financial resources to experience cultural activities and other involvements.”
To learn more about these programs, visit www.ArizonasChildren.org and click on Our Services: Behavioral Health & Trauma/Crisis Response.