Eleven-year-old David is a very active and bright boy with a natural talent in almost any sport he tries but says basketball is his favorite. He is also very curious and likes to learn new things on his own. Since coming to Cunningham's Residential Treatment Program, he has taught himself to write in cursive, learn sign language, and juggle, and he loves to perform card and magic tricks for staff and friends. However, he is most proud of his new ability to control his anger.
Before coming to Cunningham, David lived a life of chaos. His mother's addictions controlled her life, often leaving David without supervision. He harbored a lot of anger towards one of his relatives. He witnessed acts of crime which many times led to the arrests of the adults in his life that he trusted to take care of him. David yearned for love and for affection and as a result, he often made poor choices to get the attention he so badly desired.
Although a good student, his pain erupted into unpredictable fits of rage. First, counseling services were offered. Then, a combination of hospitalization and medications were thought be an effective treatment, but his behaviors only escalated. Finally, David was referred to Cunningham Children's Home through an Individual Care Grant (ICG) program. The ICG provides funding to children with a Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) to assist in obtaining the appropriate therapeutic care and treatment to manage mental and emotional behaviors.
Cunningham therapists provided specialized counseling to David which helped him to open up about his feelings. He built significant relationships with staff and learned he didn't have to act out to get attention to have his needs met.
In his two years at Cunningham, David has learned different ways to cope with the challenges of a hurtful past. Now he walks away from his peers when he finds himself in unsettling situations. He practices self-regulation by doing things he enjoys like juggling, dancing to music and shooting basketball hoops. He expresses his worries and concerns with his therapist by talking about his feelings and then placing those worries in a "worry box."
"He's made so much progress since he's been here," shares Tarek, one of the Cunningham staff members that work with David.
The good news is the "worry box" will be packed up soon with his other belongings as David is going back home this summer. Much preparation has been made to ensure a smooth transition. David's mom is drug and alcohol free and he's been visiting her every weekend. His therapist continues to provide family therapy sessions. His case manager is securing additional resources from the community.
David has now replaced his anger and worry with hope; a hope that is filled with new beginnings and a brighter future.