As many of you know, YouthPort is a collaborative partnership between 3 different agencies – Boys & Girls Club of Cedar Rapids (BGCCR), Tanager Place and Young Parents Network (YPN). All three agencies offer entirely different services to families in Cedar Rapids. As YouthPort is the “bridge” that harnesses the services available at each different agency and provides them to the individuals in the Corridor area, innovative programs often result from this unique partnership.
One example of a unique collaboration between these partnering agencies is the development of small group therapy at three of our school-based sites! YouthPort brought together Tanager Place and BGCCR to make small-group based therapy available to BGCCR members during Summer 2015. The need for small group therapy was identified after many BGCCR students were labeled as “difficult,” “explosive” or “moody” by various members from the community. These labels did not help empower these children to learn new ways of reacting or enhance their relationship skills; rather, they only served to set apart the “normal” from the “abnormal” children. Furthermore, these children’s behavior put them at risk of being kicked out of BGCCR or school, potentially hindering their stability, educational attainment and well being.
However, these labels also pointed to a poignant need for specific services to be provided to these children who needed some additional help in their lives. Consequently, YouthPort saw this gap in services as a way that Tanager Place and BGCCR could respond to the needs of these children and allow them access to services that were needed to keep them stabilized. After a few weeks of working with them, it was evident that some of these children had histories of trauma, abuse and/or behavioral problems that impacted their emotional regulation and stability. Therefore, creating a new way for these children to receive the care that they needed was essential for their healing and well being.
Currently, Tanager Place clinical therapist Abby Seyfer is in place at Taylor Elementary, Polk Alternative Education Center and Hoover Elementary several times a week meeting with small groups of children helping them develop coping skills or new behavioral skills that will help them become more and more successful in school, with their friendships and at home.
Abby said “I find value in being a caring, consistent adult in the lives of these children. I believe that I can plant seeds, however little, that will someday come to fruition when these kiddos are met with a conflict or a difficult time. It’s also important that I am able to communicate with their parents and other adults in their life, such as staff at Boy’s and Girl’s Club, so that I have a better overall picture of how these kids are functioning in each environment. Through collaboration with each of these important individuals in the lives of these clients I believe that the most long-lasting change is made. I learn something new from my clients each and every day and they never fail to make me laugh or bring a smile to my face.“
We are very proud of this new, innovative programming and is only a sign of what is yet to come from YouthPort! Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding small group therapy!