Joseph was only thirteen years old when he faced unimaginable trauma.
“When routines get disrupted at home, kids don’t have the emotional vocabulary to communicate how that added stress affects them. That’s when we see them acting out,” said Justin Hacking, LCPC, who is the Clinical Supervisor at Idaho Youth Ranch.
“I didn’t want to do it, but living in that environment, I just didn’t think I had any other option.”
Jake was a smart, vibrant teenage boy who had the world going for him. He had friends and good grades and got along well with others. No one on the outside looking in would have guessed that he was at risk for suicide.
When Katie first came to the Ranch Campus, she had no intention of ever returning home. Adopted as a teenager, she feared that her parents loved their biological kids more and the resulting conflicts had torn the family apart. Her intention was to complete the Ranch program, move into independent living, attend college, and never look back.
Koda came to the Ranch Campus at 16 years old, so full of fight that the staff almost resorted to discharging him early for the safety of the other residents. “I had a whole bunch of anger problems,” he said, “It kind of ran in the family.” His home life on a rural ranch revolved around conflict with his mom and brothers, but fortunately, it also gave him a budding passion for horses and cowboy crafts. Koda credits the Ranch’s Equine Therapy with helping him understand for the first time that anger was something he could choose to control. Trauma can be transformed. Koda learned how to transform his trauma into something positive.
Very few success stories move in straight lines that never waver. For many of the kids we work with at IYR, the path to a promising future includes some setbacks and challenges along the way.
Nathan’s Story: A Father Looks Back on His Time at IYR
If you've seen the Summer 2015 issue of our Maverick newsletter, you'll remember a short article about Nathan McEwen, who is an IYR graduate and whose teenage son is also an IYR graduate. Last year, Nathan gave a talk for an IYR staff meeting and shared his story with us, and we'd like to share that longer version with you--the supporters and donors who make success stories like Nathan's possible.
To say that Nicole had a rough start in life is an understatement. As an infant, Nicole’s diapers would go unchanged so long that she remembers the pain of having urine burns all over her tiny body and once watching her older brother and sister try to eat cat litter while their mom was sinking into meth addiction.
When Koda came to the Ranch Campus at 16, he was so full of fight that the staff seriously considered discharging him early, for the safety of the other residents. “I had a whole bunch of anger problems,” he said. “It kind of ran in the family.” His early home life on a rural ranch had revolved around conflict with his mom and brothers. But fortunately it also instilled in him a fascination with horses and cowboy crafts. Koda credits the Ranch’s equine specialists with helping him understand for the first time that anger was something he had choices about.
Breaking the Cycle
One of our program graduates recently applied for -- and received -- an Idaho Youth Ranch scholarship. Her application letter told the story of a courageous transformation, made possible by so many generous IYR donors and community partners. Anna came to us struggling against tremendous obstacles, but she is now on her way to college with a clear life direction.