The George Hull Centre Day Treatment Program
As the school year winds down, I find myself reflecting on the past 10 months and my thoughts are dominated by the many outstanding moments of success that I have had the joy of witnessing this year. The George Hull Centre’s Day Treatment Program hosts a maximum of 32 students ranging from Grades 6 through 12 who present with a broad range of complex social, emotional, academic and behavioural needs. Our classes are staffed by a team of teachers and Child and Youth Workers and our broader team also includes clinicians, psychiatrists, psychologists and guidance counsellors. Despite the wide range of students in our school population, we have managed to create an atmosphere that allows students to arrive at school and drop their emotional amour. They trust the staff and feel safe to be themselves, and within this environment, they flourish.
Our program is a stepping stone and we keep transition planning back to a regular classroom at the forefront of every discussion about every student. We know that successful transitions happen when the planning is thorough, realistic and involves the voices of both the student and their family. This program allows kids to find academic success, feel accepted by their peers, address their mental health issues, develop strategies to cope when things get tough, improve communication within their family and ultimately gain confidence in themselves. We work to help every student build a tool box of skills, supports and self awareness that they can carry with them through their life journey.
I recently had a chance to chat with Bryan, a 15 year old student who has been with us for three semesters. When Bryan entered our school he had been at home for most of grade 8 and 9. He described to me how in the past the stress and anxiety he experienced, even just trying to enter the school building, caused stomach aches, panic attacks and he ultimately stopped attending school altogether. He was isolated, sad, anxious, depressed, alone and hopeless. During our chat last week he said “Life is really improved since I have attended this school. I am a lot happier and I have overcome my anxiety and depression”. Bryan is all set to move on to an alternative school in September and feels that because of the help he received at The George Hull Centre Day Treatment Program he will be successful as he moves forward. He identified his major successes from his time in the program, “I have earned 7 credits, my mental state is improved, I have lots of friends and I now have a better relationship with my parents”. Bryan is realistic that moving forward and away from the supportive atmosphere of Day Treatment will have some challenges, but he feels ready and even a bit excited.
The measure of success for each of our students is individual and their goals are constantly changing and evolving. Our program gives kids an opportunity to take a pause, catch their breath and settle the chaos that is either within them or around them. It’s always bittersweet for me to see the school year end. I know we are all (students and staff) ready for the summer break but we will miss this safe space that we have created here this year. As our students walk out the door at the end of this month, I am proud of all they have accomplished, the work they have done, and most importantly the kindness, support and acceptance that they have shown each other.