HB18 - 1003: The Opioid Prevention Program to Improve Young Lives
On March 13th, Tennyson Center CEO, Ned Breslin, was asked to testify to the Colorado General Assembly regarding the opioid crisis and the effects we see on the children and families we serve at Tennyson Center.
At Tennyson Center, our staff maintains engaging and effective programming through the summer months to address this challenge. We employ trauma-informed, experiential learning techniques such as our “Challenge by Choice” initiative that combines therapeutic support with Outward Bound-style adventures; horticulture through our healing garden and theme-based instruction like sports, electronics and others. Our Acute Skills for People with Emotional Needs (ASPEN) program also maintains meaningful programming in the summer for kids with autism spectrum and intellectual/developmental disorders.
Imagine your child has been struggling for months. Perhaps aggression, perhaps suicidal ideation, perhaps defiance or depression. He is in trouble at school, fighting with siblings, causing stress on your marriage and on the whole family. On top of that, you’re in danger of losing your job from having to take off work to help with crises all the time. You don’t have many supports and the bills are piling up. Finally you get referred for therapy services- only to find out that first you will have to wait 6-8 weeks on a waitlist. You know there is no way you and your child will be able to maintain for that long. The way things have been going, your child may end up in the hospital or in police custody soon, or you may lose your job. You simply cannot wait…
Since last spring, students have participated in growing their own food by planting, watering, and weeding the garden. As we embark on a new school year, we will continue to use this space as a laboratory for hands-on learning.
I did my best to prepare myself for the emotions I would feel on that Saturday, but nothing can prepare you for the emotion you feel when the buses arrive. The energy was positive and powerful. People were excited and ready to work. They asked questions of our programs and services, wanting to know about our kiddos and the positive impact they would be making.
I imagine there are too many kids in trouble still hiding under beds, trying to disappear into their covers or closets, not sleeping for fear that someone will walk in on them at night as happened before, and whose terror level rises as their parents enter darker alcohol and drug induced mindsets that truly put kids’ lives and wellbeing at risk.