Opening a New Lodge

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On October 10, 2015, we celebrated the dedication of a new lodge in memory of our founder, Richard Beach. Over two hundred guests representing thirty-four years of Shelterwood service came to usher in the beginning of a new era of care.

Located in Independence, Missouri on over two hundred acres, our property had plenty of room for a new building. The design of the Beach Lodge embraces so much of what Richard loved: excellent care, community, and a family setting. What a great way to honor our founder and his vision!

The Beach Lodge was designed as a compliment to our existing residential lodges. Our executive team wanted to create a space that was more intimate, particularly for incoming students and those with specific issues. We have been very successful with students who have neurobehavioral issues and wanted to create a more strategic environment within which they could flourish. After consulting with the Calo Program and the State of Missouri, our team designed a state of the art building that accommodates thirty-two students.

IMG 7965 copy 300x200 Opening a New LodgeThe building is designed with two wings made up of two units on each side. Each unit accommodates up to eight students for a total of sixteen on a wing. The girls’ side opens up to a large patio area and overlooks a beautiful tiered raised garden bed where the girls participate in a gardening program. The boys’ side is designed exactly as the girls, but opens up to their own patio area and a new soccer field for sports events.

Each of the units is self-contained with specially designed bathrooms, showers, locked cubbies, a family sitting and dining area, therapists’ offices as well as two sensory rooms. Creating an “open” unit for better supervision while providing students a sense of their own space is no small task! Four “open” rooms with two students sharing a room enable students to engage in community more quickly, have less stimulation and better supervision.

As you walk into the main entrance of the building, you immediately feel the warmth and hospitality of our Family Welcome center. This large room is used for a variety of events during family weekends as well as special retreats and gatherings.

Staff tell us they love working in this setting, and our students have settled in well. Our dedication of the Beach Lodge was a very special event. We know Richard would be proud! Shelterwood will be hosting a variety of tours and conferences in 2016. Come and visit!

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New Lodge

Our new lodge, The Richard Beach Lodge, is open !!!

%name New LodgeShelterwood has expanded!  Our new lodge, The Richard Beach Lodge, is complete.  It is a cutting edge facility which offers an intimate space, fostering a family living environment.  The Beach Lodge enables us to offer students individualized attention in a less stimulating environment.

As you walk in the front door you will enter the Family Welcome Center.  The welcome center is a beautiful gathering place that includes a hospitality kitchen and the House Directors’ Office.  In addition to providing a warm welcome for new families, this area creates a perfect environment to host  family groups and workshops.

The building is designed in the shape of an H and each wing is made up of two units which house 8 students per unit, or a total of 16 students per side.  The “open” interior is designed to create a family environment with a cozy sitting and dining area in the middle of four bedrooms.  Everything students need individually is accommodated: washer and dyers, private bathrooms, and personal space for studying.  A therapist’s office is in each unit along with a ‘Time In room for students who need alone time.   Time In rooms will have comfy chairs our students can snuggle into, as well as essential oils and other creative calming options. We have also purchased some fantastic furniture which work together through the use of color and design to create a sense of peace and tranquility.

Our young men’s wing overlooks the new soccer field, benches and picnic tables with ample space for other sports activities.  Our young ladies will enjoy a beautiful outdoor area with Amish swings and benches overlooking their own raised bed vegetable and flower garden.

We are really excited about this new lodge.  Come take a look.  We would love to tour you through this amazing facility and introduce you to some of our students. And it should be noted that this whole building was the result of the generous donations of alumni and friends.  Wow !!  Families will benefit for years to come and not one penny of your tuition will be directed toward this building.  What a fantastic savings.  This allows us to continue to offer a top notch staff and a better than one to one ratio of staff to students.

The Best Residential Programs

Matching facility resources and student needs is critical – Here is what to look for

Once the decision is made to place a teen in a residential program, parents face the formidable task of selecting among the many facilities that advertise nationwide. A ‘good fit’ between the family and the residential facility is essential to optimize the chances of a favorable outcome.

Like therapists, residential facilities vary widely in their goals, their theoretical orientation and treatment paradigms, and the specific features of their treatment settings.   Therapeutic programs also very widely in their location, cost, amenities and lengths of stay.

We urge parents to seek out markers of quality and encourage them to ask a lot of questions before committing to a particular program. There are no standardized or nationwide ratings of residential programs, but generally speaking, high-quality residential treatment facilities will have the following characteristics in common:

  • Accreditation and/or licensure: The best residential programs tend to subject themselves to scrutiny and oversight by state licensing authorities. Such licensing and accrediting authorities require strict standards for evidence-based care, documentation, medication storage and handling, and other key aspects of residential care.
  • Fully credentialed staff: Staff who work in the best residential programs must be sensitive not only to the dynamics of each individual client, but also to group dynamics, the dynamics between staff and clients and, perhaps most importantly, the often-subtle indications that a client may be in need of more intensive programming or even hospitalization. Prior experience in inpatient facilities can be quite helpful for residential program staff members.
  • Ready access to urgent and emergency care facilities: Accidents happen and so do intentional acts of self-harm. The best residential programs that have working relationships with local hospitals and urgent care facilities are well positioned to transition patients in crisis to a higher level of care with less disruption.
  • Research orientated: Although costly and time consuming, research is critical to any top quality program. While most programs are founded by well-meaning individuals, many of these founders have created a philosophy and curriculum based on their own life experience. Research-based programming breaks through this bias and forces programs to adhere to the science of change. When programs make research a priority, parents are assured that the staff is focused on outcomes and the future success of their teen is highly valued.
  • Purpose driven: Whether it’s called a statement of faith, a mission statement, or something else, every program has an underlying basic philosophy that drives their program and treatment. This unifying purpose or value statement impacts whom they hire and how they will interact with the teens. It provides critical insight into the beliefs of a program and staff. Asking residential programs what they believe about the nature of man will help you understand the underlying philosophy of the program, which impacts how the program will go about creating change.   Unfortunately, most residential programs are unaware or naive regarding this larger philosophical question. But whether programs realize it or not, their beliefs have a significant and long lasting impact on the teens that they work with. Good programs should stay in touch with former students and will inadvertently continue to share their values long after the students have left. So ask the program what they believe about the nature of man, how people change, and if they recognize a higher power. We place our children in residential programs to be impacted and changed, so it stands to reason that understanding how this change is going to happen and what messages are going to be conveyed is critical.

The Beach Lodge

photo 1 300x225 The Beach LodgeShelterwood is set to open a new lodge in the summer of 2015. The new building is the result of generous donors and the recognition that there are many families around the country that need help. The lodge will house eight students, in four different pods, for a total of thirty-two. The unique design is the result of much study and consultation with the State of Missouri and the leadership of CALO.

We have decided to name this amazing new lodge after our late founder, Richard Beach. Richard passed away a few years ago after a long battle with cancer. He started Shelterwood in 1980 and invested all of his energy into developing leaders and caring for families. Richard had a special way about him, always eager to connect and care for others, and willing to talk to anybody. His conversations were always filled with humor and care.

Richard always saw the best in people. He nurtured many people, young and old, into fantastic leaders. I was fortunate because I managed to spend many years directly under Richard’s leadership and deeply appreciated his mentorship. Unlike other leaders that try to hold on to power, Richard always found ways to share leadership. Even with Richards passing, Shelterwood remains living proof of this wisdom, as most non-profit organizations go out of business within a few years of their founder leaving. Not Shelterwood. We are still here and continuing to grow.

Richard trusted the people that he developed for succession. Those who do not finish well seem to always beSW Construction 13 copy 300x224 The Beach Lodge dissatisfied with whoever succeeds them, almost as if they are looking for, but unable to find, a clone of themselves. Richard did not hold on to power, but instead shared it freely and at Shelterwood, this continues to be our model. Over the years we have managed to develop and then release many leaders to start their own programs. Leadership development through our mentor process does not just apply to the staff that work at Shelterwood Academy, but it is also a critical part of how we interact with our students.

And so it makes sense that our new student residence would be called the Beach Lodge: designed to care for the most hurting of teenagers in an intimate way. We anticipate the Beach Lodge being filled with laughter, compassion and growth and providing an opportunity for young men and women to uncover their full potential.

Watch this fantastic video of Richard Beach share on the importance of love.

Recreation Therapy Activities

artshow 3 copy Recreation Therapy ActivitiesThe Shelterwood Recreation Therapy team uses various activities and fine arts to meet some very unique needs on campus and give the students a VOICE. The team, led by Karalee White, is made up of artists and musicians who love to think outside the box in their efforts to give creative outlets to Shelterwood students.

Most recently, Karalee and Cindy Booth organized an art show for our parent weekends that featured all kinds of student work.   Students created pieces such as paintings, painted wooden chairs, wire sculptures, sketches, drawings, greeting cards, jewelry, knitted pieces, and refurbished picture frames. The artwork was displayed outside in the Shelterwood garden and the gazebo where parents and staff could browse and purchase various pieces. The $1465 that was collected helped fund a variety of projects including the Shelterwood coffee house, the Trash to Treasure club, the November Haiti trip and to another local ministry that fights human trafficking. Visual arts has proven to be an invaluable outlet for some students, often leading to greater relationships and further progress in their personal lives.

Another activity that is picking up steam is the music club overseen by Gabe Desince. Gabe is now in his third year at Shelterwood and he works with the students four days a week. He explores topics such as music theory, expression, lyric pet therapy1 copy Recreation Therapy Activitiesanalysis and symbolism in music. Students write their own music and perform at the quarterly coffee house and at chapel and other events. He is able to use his relationships and music/poetry to give the students a critical outlet and thereby help the therapy teams.

Other aspects of this department include pet therapy, rock climbing, weekend climbing trips, fishing, mountain biking, campfires on property, creative film making, and theatre activities such as choral work, musicals, monologues, one act plays, stand up and local and global service projects.

It is our hope that students can take these newly found skills home as part of their transition plan in order to continue to have a healthy outlet for expression.

Healthy Food = Healthy Lives

DSC9015 copy 200x300 Healthy Food = Healthy LivesThis spring and summer our students have had an amazing opportunity to work in our new garden, which was built last fall.  We have been able to see one growing season all the way through from planting to harvest.  We have grown tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra, herbs, squash, and more.  The flowers have been beautifully arranged to provide even more color in our garden and throughout campus.  Students have had a part in each step of the process.   Daily, the kitchen proudly uses the produce to create some nutritious and creative dishes.

Not only do we enjoy the delicious and beautiful provisions of the garden, but we also are very aware of the therapeutic benefits, as gardens can be an amazing avenue of healing.  Here are some of the therapeutic aspects of our garden:

The ability to take ownership

Gardens require ownership and need careful tending.  Teens we work with often struggle with feelings of loneliness, not belonging and a lack of purpose.  As seeds are planted and life is created, students quickly take on the role of caretakers and get to experience the responsibility, even if in a small way, of maintaining life.  Pulling weeds in an effort to protect and nurture life starts to become a requirement for success and provides immediate feedback as to how well they are doing.  And with the harvest, teens experience fantastic tasting food and the satisfaction of a completed task.

Empowerment to make decisions

Decisions are always difficult for teens as they struggle to feel confident. Perfectionism can often paralyze behavior and their ability to process information.  Fortunately, plants are flexible and forgiving. Making choices and decisions in caring for them offers avenues for trial and error as well as recognition that there is not always a “right” way to garden.

Communication of Emotions

Emotions can often get the best of us, but for teens emotions are often expressed in unpredictable and in unusual ways. We find that our garden provides many fantastic metaphors, which enable teens to express emotions in deeper and more appropriate ways.

Shelterwood Rd2 459 copy Healthy Food = Healthy LivesGood Food

Those with eating disorders often view food in a different way.  Research suggests that food often takes on a “bad guy” persona.  Food actually becomes an object of fear.  Those who struggle with eating issues often detach themselves from food and have difficulty feeling safe around it.  Being involved in the production of food ties teens back to food.  Because of the teen’s investment in the food, they are able to slowly change the way they view the purpose and intention of it.

We are thankful for the garden at Shelterwood and are excited to see its therapeutic benefits continue.

Horses guide therapy sessions

DSC 0001 copy 300x199 Horses guide therapy sessionsHorse therapy is a critical component in any top-notch therapeutic boarding school.

Horses have been used for many things over the years like robbing banks, delivering the mail, pulling plows, and even jumping in efforts to win Olympic medals, but did you know that now they are being used as teachers in therapeutic schools?

Horses actually teach class and guide therapy sessions at our school.  Believe it or not, horses are very expressive and are able to communicate verbally and non-verbally.

Surprisingly, relationships with people and horses are very similar, allowing teens to talk to the horse like they might communicate with another person.  But unlike people, horses cannot be controlled or manipulated and therefore provide real unbiased feedback to the teen.  But don’t worry; the teens rarely get kicked.

In fact, our horses are quite gentle when providing an immediate response.  Yet, they are able to highlight the short-comings in one’s communication style with the firmness that only a thousand pound beast might.

The instructors are watching this interaction to help the teen uncover patterns of communication. With time, the partnership that is built between the horse and a student is potent and enables a student to work out some very personal issues. And so the horse arena becomes a counseling arena as teens battle to gain their voice while revealing themselves for the first time.  It is a magical experience that awakens self-understanding even among the most oppositional of students.

Our primary goal is not technical riding or horsemanship tasks or even to foster a love for horses, but rather to provide an opportunity for teens to learn about themselves and how they communicate. Partnering students with horses has become a fantastic tool at Shelterwood through which teens can express themselves. Who knew that the best teacher your son or daughter might have is standing in the pasture eating grass?

Stay tuned to subsequent blogs where we discuss other special therapies including, our low ropes course, recreation therapy, sand tray, art, and music – all of which are being used by Shelterwood to help teens uncover the motivations that maintain feelings of depression, anger, and anxiety.

If you are interested in Horse Therapy give us a call to learn more.  (800) 584 5005