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January 16, 2020

Stories with Friends: Part 15

Amber’s Birthday Surprise

As Friend/mentor Sarah reflected recently in 2019, she spoke of how incredible it has been to watch her girls make connections and develop relationships with each other.

For example, Katie and Amber have become really close friends. It was Amber’s birthday last weekend and, unfortunately, she did not have the best day. When Sarah told Katie this, Katie immediately wanted to celebrate Amber! They made her a card and got her a cupcake and were so excited to celebrate with her.

Amber lit up when she saw the card, and Katie was so excited to be able to help make Amber happy. It was a beautiful story of Belonging and Positive Relationship Building (Core Assets) for Sarah, Amber and Katie.


Nelson: Advocating for Himself

Even though he loved his old school, Nelson changed to a new school recently. It was for an exciting reason; however, he was reunited with his mom and needed to move cities.

Nelson had been doing great at his former school, but because of some past behavioral concerns, he had a “behavior chart” that followed him from one school to the next. He found himself having to get adults to sign off on his chart all day long. He was starting to feel really anxious because he was constantly being monitored had to track down teachers to ensure he got their stamp of approval.

Recently he told Friend/mentor Joe flat out, “I haven’t been getting it signed.” As Joe asked him why, he was amazed by Nelson’s ability to articulate what he was feeling. He told Joe he did not feel like he was getting a lot out of it and did not think he needed to continue doing it.

Joe was struck by Nelson’s ability to advocate for himself–to speak to what he needs, wants, and finds important in his own life.

Joe loved the maturity and growth Nelson showed that afternoon and likened it to Self-Determination, one of our Core Assets. Nelson found himself in a new, complicated situation and, through self-determination, was able to take care of himself in a healthy way without the need for a behavior chart. Way to go, Nelson!

That’s My Best Friend!

Gretchen can be shy around others sometimes. A few months ago, Friend/mentor Ashley wanted to take Gretchen on a group outing with Stella. When Ashley and Stella arrived to pick up Gretchen, she was very unsure–not wanting to get into the car or say hello to Stella.

Unfortunately, the group outing did not workout that afternoon, but more recently, Ashley asked Gretchen if she wanted to go on an outing with Stella. Gretchen’s face lit up as she said, “Oh, that’s my best friend!”

Ashley was struck by Gretchen’s excitement and sense of Belonging–another Core Asset. She also cannot wait to have many more group outings with Gretchen and Stella!

Behavior Issues, No More!

Andrew has had some behavioral issues in the past, and, because of this, Friend/mentor Corey has only been able to have outings with Andrew at his school. They have not been able to do any of the fun, adventure-type things they used to enjoy together (their favorite was catching lizards).

Recently, Corey told Andrew that he was bummed they did not get to have outings outside of school, telling him, “I really miss hanging out with you!” Andrew felt the same way, so Corey went to work on a way to get their outings back. He and Nona, our Program Director, came up with a plan: if Andrew could go ten days without any behavioral concerns, he and Andrew could have their time outside of school back.

It was an ambitious plan, as previously, Andrew had not been able to go more than two to three days without a behavior issue arising. That was four months ago, and Andrew has not had one behavior issue since that day!

For one of their recent outings, Andrew and Corey went to find geodes outside of Bend. While in search of these rocks, they found themselves on a long hike together. They came to a cliff, and Andrew said, “This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.” Corey realized Andrew had never been to the top of a mountain and knew this was a special moment.

Later, as Corey asked Andrew about what had changed with his behavior, he answered, “You said I had to go ten days, so I just really focused and didn’t get into trouble.”

We are so proud and excited for Andrew and Corey. Getting their outings back has meant the world to them both, and Andrew’s Perseverance and Grit and Self-Determination (both Core Assets) have been incredible to watch!