|1. Video Testimonials|
Red Mesa Unified School District was awarded the Grants to Reduce Alcohol Abuse (GRAA) and chose to adopt the Reconnecting Youth Program to support targeted at-risk youth at two High Schools. The RY Coordinator for Red Mesa USD made a short video about her experience with RY. You can watch the video on YouTube.
The Tulare County Office of Education in California coordinates RY in most of the Tulare Co. high schools (and some middle schools)! They created and posted a video on their website to describe the program and its rewards for the students, schools, families, and community.
Contact us if you have made a video about your RY or CAST experience. We may highlight it here!
|2. Student Testimonials|
Now graduation feels possible to me.
[In RY] I have learned how to let go and how to start to deal with problems. I know that will help me in the future.
RY helped me to . . . think about how my actions, whether good or bad, will and can affect those around me that care.
Before joining RY, without a doubt I was probably one of the laziest people you know. . . . Wasn’t willing to be held responsible for my own actions. . . . I got my GPA high enough so that I was able to be accepted to Oregon State University for a football scholarship.
RY has helped me to work out my problems and stop running from them. RY has taught me how to open up to people about my problems.
I learned a lot in the RY class. I have much better self-esteem since the class started. I am less mad at times. I think about things before I do it.
I’ve really enjoyed participating in RY. It’s one of my favorite classes I’ve ever had. It was a change and not like any other class. I feel it motivated me to do better and always keep my head up. If I could take this class for the rest of high school, I would. Thank you for the opportunity to talk about the things in our lives such as school, drugs, alcohol, and anything else that needed to be discussed.
This class made me realize how much pot I had been smoking. I have cut back on my use a lot. I get to school on time. I plan on graduating on time too.
As of [this week], I will be clean for 4 months! RY helped me to be where I am today. I have got my mom and dad’s respect back. RY is a very good program.
In the beginning, I actually found out that I have a Self-Esteem issue that I would have never thought of before. My perception of self-esteem is the way I see and feel about myself. Wow, that really got me to thinking — thinking that I don’t like some stuff about myself. I always thought of me having anger issues as well, so, the helpful criticism I received from others in the class really made a difference! I wasn’t going around punching walls and cutting myself anymore. RY taught me about mood management and how to make better decisions that wouldn’t result in hurtful consequences and taught me that I had better ways of working out my problems. RY taught me how severe drug addiction can turn into something fatal and being addicted to a drug harms every part of your body even if it seems that you are fine!!! This is a class I will never forget and how it changed my life!
RY was a good class. And I’m happy I took it. Getting close to everyone and being so open made me feel so good.
This group has made a big turnaround. I feel like no one is going to question what I say now – and that it will stay here.
I think CAST is great because it’s really helping me make good choices, and I know I can get support from the other people in the group if I need help!
I followed the STEPS and walked away to calm down instead of arguing with my mom. We are getting along better now!
CAST is helping me to slow down before I act. I still get mad and all, but I am slowing down and trying to do the right thing.
|3. Testimonials about RY|
The Reconnecting Youth program has allowed us to initiate a school-wide effort that establishes a culture promoting healthy lifestyles throughout every aspect of school life. We find that RY encourages Navajo culture, traditions, and healings. RY serves to strengthen the belief that students should act with dignity towards themselves, others and their environment, and to respect their elders and themselves. I feel honored to be a part of such a great program!
As a parent, what I noticed about my son’s [RY] participation is that it really helped him navigate high school … I really credit Reconnecting Youth, the curriculum and the staff, for this. To help my son set goals, to follow through, to really ask for help in a positive way from his instructors.
I really appreciate how well organized and structured the whole [RY] program is. This will make it very user-friendly. I can’t wait to teach this!
Year one exceeded our expectations and we are very pleased with the outcomes our [RY] students have achieved thus far … including a statistically significant improvement in Grade Point Average (GPA); significant advances in accumulating credit toward graduation; and a decline in their alcohol and marijuana use. The 2011-2012 school year is off to a great start and we look forward to sharing additional program evaluation data as it becomes available!
Our [RY] program… has been successful because teachers and staff see a change in student behavior and grades because of RY. Our leaders are skilled at working with youth, have built trust with school staff, and have implemented the program with fidelity. The students talk amongst themselves and want to sign up for the class. There are some teachers that contact the RY instructor and say ‘Hey, so and so should be in your class, why don’t you talk to him/her.’ We have the support of superintendents, principals, and guidance in the schools where [RY] is being implemented.
I have students ask me all the time when the next RY Class will be because they want to get in! Other teachers ask about having students participate in the next RY Class, as they have noted improvements in students who have previously attended RY.
In April, two local students came to share their life and RY experiences with our community and City Councilors as they declared April ‘Youth Alcohol Prevention Month.’ The kids spoke about their challenges and successes and were utterly captivating and attributed their changes to their involvement in RY. These two students are among dozens of others who have learned new skills and have turned their lives around because of their participation in RY. I will continue to cheerlead for this program and I felt it was necessary to share with you the amazing transformations that are occurring in our beautiful city.”
She was in grade 9 and going downhill fast. Constantly running away, severely depressed, experimenting with drugs and alcohol and was alienating herself from so many students at the school. Her mom and I were in constant conversations throughout the semester about what could be done for her child. She walked up to me with tears in her eyes. She couldn’t believe the change in her daughter over the summer, since finishing RY. Her daughter wasn’t running off; she was sitting with her parents to negotiate and talk about things; she was doing family activities; ultimately ended up doing very well on her exams and passed all but 1 course. Her mother couldn’t get over the change in her and was so thankful to have her “little girl” back. She gives 100% of the credit to RY. Even her daughter said it was what she learned in RY and brought home that helped her to make those decisions.
Students love the hands-on activities in the RY curriculum.
We love RY and have implemented it successfully since January 2010. We run two classes each semester, and we hold graduation at the end of each semester. Some of the students speak–it’s very inspirational!
[Student’s] foster mom called me yesterday afternoon and told me that the judge announced that he had been ready to incarcerate [student] for 60 days but after reading my letter and learning about the special RY program, he had changed his mind and would give her one more chance. He said he wanted her to have the opportunity to experience the RY program. Isn’t that amazing?
Students worked outside of class time to help the fire victims in Bastrop, TX. My [RY] students gathered donations, separated and boxed clothes and made some small posters with encouraging words for the families that were affected. I heard one of my students comment, “This has really been fun; we are helping out families who lost everything, we are bonding ourselves and we didn’t even have to be out drinking to have a good time.”
|4. Testimonials about CAST|
[CAST] is a wonderful tool for the district. The curriculum is very thorough and self-explanatory.
CAST offers just what we have been looking for in a prevention program for our at-risk students. It is science-based and brief with proven success!
Many of the students I have worked with have struggled with attendance but at the end of our 12 sessions, I was able to give some group members a reward for perfect attendance – what an accomplishment for them!
This program is wonderful and implementing it at different ages could really benefit society as a whole.
As a new facilitator, I have enjoyed leading CAST with two different groups. I am motivated by the skills CAST provides the students and the effort the students put forth when they begin to experience success.
This program is outstanding and will be super helpful in my work with students and families who are challenged by these issues (mood, drug use, academics).
One day after group, a student stayed after to discuss some of the battles she had overcome since the group started. This student had very poor attendance and poor grades due to her lack of school attendance. She was also depressed and disconnected from school, friends, and family. She stayed after to show me her mid-term report which showed she was now a B student that had only missed 2 days in the last 3 months of school! She had also made a few new friends in CAST which she credited for the positive lift in her day-to-day mood. I felt rewarded as a facilitator to watch her positive progression through CAST and to celebrate her individual successes with her.
This program will be very beneficial in our schools. It includes great tools and design and is purpose driven.
The experience I have had using the CAST curriculum is that it works well with Native American youth because 1) a good leader can incorporate culture and/or tradition into the sessions; 2) it builds on the strengths of each youth involved and provides ways for the youth to become a part of something positive; and 3) the support not only comes from the leader but from each member of the group because they learn to use the skills they are being taught by practicing with each other and then with people outside of the group. CAST has been a great addition to the services we provide here at White Sky Hope Center, especially because it is the youth’s choice whether they want to be a part of the group and it is not forced on them. CAST works for our kids!
CAST members are enthusiastic about coming to CAST each session. Here’s just one example: One student began CAST as somewhat of an outsider. He was new to the school and had few friends. He kept mostly to himself and explained during our first session that he didn’t need support from others. He said he preferred to do things himself, without asking for help. By session 7, he was asking for help from the group and providing positive feedback to others. One of his teachers reported to me that he had explained to her how much he enjoyed CAST!
|5. Testimonials about Training|
This was an incredibly powerful training and I am leaving excited to use what I learned!
Wow! Best training ever!
This was, by far, one of the best, most informative, most interesting and most motivating trainings I’ve ever been to!
This training provided me with a lot more insight of what the [RY] program is about and highlighted it’s not a place where students can just vent, but come to learn skills on how to be better students/citizens.
This was probably the most enjoyable AND productive P.D. [Professional Development] I have ever attended. It was relaxed but maintained an extremely productive flow.
The training activities were very specific and transferable to the classroom. I learned so much! It also helped with peer bonding (with colleagues).
I was nervous, but it turned out to be so valuable. Truly outstanding!! I can’t wait to begin. I believe in [RY].
This training is absolutely invaluable in implementing RY. I am so totally pumped to start this program in the spring.
Without this [training] I don’t feel that we would be nearly as ready to implement the CAST group…Very necessary!
Top notch! Really terrific training.
Excellent training and curriculum! I appreciate participating in the lessons and having the opportunity to experience CAST within the context of training.
This was an extremely helpful training process. If I didn’t go through it, I’m not sure I could implement CAST at my site. Great training!
Doing the lessons with “live” students made all of the difference! It made it more real and the days went by fast plus it forced us to start to learn the curriculum and prepare ahead of time.
An awesome tool for helping kids. Well presented, fabulous job! The [CAST] curriculum has great structure, activities, themes, and use of support teaching.
Valuable experience. The training ensured that we are immersed in practical theory. I really “got involved” with the content through the experience.
This has opened my eyes to many ideas. I’m looking forward to beginning the 1st group!
I love how the [CAST] program is set up. It takes the guesswork out of it. Love how it is designed so that the Materials (e.g., posters) can be used over and over.
[Trainer] has a calm presence, but also created a sense of excitement. I think it is her genuine love for what she teaches. She really believes in these programs!
[Trainer] was exceptional. He was so good at keeping us together and showing support in an authentic way. He modeled the desired behaviors through and through.
[Trainer] is an astonishingly professional educator. Makes me want to keep doing this for years to come.
You should all wine and dine [Trainer] and make sure you keep her on staff for a long, long time. She is fabulous!
[Trainer’s] use of humor made this training awesome! She kept professional but very interesting. Really showed she knows her stuff and is a master! Appreciated her use of personal experience.
Any program, lesson, workshop, in-service, meeting is only as strong as the leader. [Trainer] is the most dynamic presenter I’ve had the pleasure to work with the past 20 years. Very well prepared — obvious enthusiasm. She not only knows RY materials, but she also represents it personally.