Latham Centers: A Healing Destination
by Mark Freado, President, Reclaiming Youth International
Latham Centers is a nonprofit organization located on Cape Cod, in Brewster, Massachusetts. Latham is a residential school that provides therapeutic services for a challenging group of students. For the past five years, Latham Centers has been involved with Reclaiming Youth International to ensure the elements identified by the Circle of Courage® are addressed in its services. Serving children and young people between the ages of 8 and 22, the organization provides a therapeutic milieu and innovative interventions for a diverse set of challenges and needs.
Half of those served are diagnosed with a disorder called Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS). PWS is a complex genetic condition that manifests with severe, idiosyncratic symptoms, including insatiable appetite, which poses significant threat to well-being and can even result in death. The remainder of the students in the organization are those identified with cognitive delays and psychiatric problems, including bi-polar disorder, reactive attachment disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome and autism. Many of these students lives have also been complicated by abuse and neglect, resulting in severe behavioral and emotional problems. Latham Centers works with students who have not succeeded in a variety of other settings, which means that in addition to other challenges, these young people have also been displaced numerous times on the way to this program.
Tim Vaughan, residential director of Latham Centers is a certified Response Ability Pathways™ (RAP) trainer. The organization obtained a grant and over the past three years have had RYI RAP trainer team members on site to provide RAP training and support the organization’s effort to help permeate Circle of Courage® thinking throughout the programs. Lisa Shepard provided the initial work there by providing training in a cooperative effort between Latham Centers and the RFK Children’s Action Corp. I have visited Latham Centers on two occasions in the past two years to provide RAP training and consultation. Another session is scheduled for February 2013. We have worked with administrative, clinical, educational, and direct service staff members in these training experiences.
During my previous visits, I have had the opportunity to spend time in the program to talk with staff and students about thetherapeutic experience that is the Latham Centers residential treatment program in Brewster, MA. Among the first impressions are the obvious commitment of the staff members I talk with, the smiles and courtesy of the students, and the abundant presence of elements of the Circle of Courage®. The organization has purchased dozens of Circle of Courage® posters from the RYI bookstore that adorn offices, hallways and residences. Bulletin boards are filled with lessons and student renditions of the meaning of belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. Elsewhere there are photographs of staff and students experiencing the joy of learning by doing activities and adventures together. Cape Cod is known throughout the world as a vacation destination on the Atlantic Ocean with sand dunes, lighthouses, and maritime history. In the middle of all of that, there is a campus where young people with significant challenges reside and are surrounded by very committed, well-trained and supported staff that makes this part of Cape Cod a healing destination.