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Spectrum Health Systems recently changed the name of its Youth Academy program to R.E.A.C.H. which stands for “Recovery through Education, Adventure, Commitment and Health.” The new name is meant to reflect the program’s transformation from a para-military style approach to a Project Adventure (PA) model, thus creating a less stressful environment and allowing residents to focus on their treatment and recovery.

The success of the program’s conversion can be attributed to staff preparedness. All staff members have been oriented to the program’s new philosophy and approach. The first step was to eliminate all military protocol. Direct care staff are now working one-to-one with residents in counseling roles, and learning to facilitate groups with the support of Spectrum’s clinicians.

A number of staff members also took part in Adventure-Based Counseling training with Project Adventure, which allows for further integration of the P.A. philosophies into R.E.A.C.H. programming. The Project Adventure (www.pa.org) curriculum is one of the core bases of Spectrum’s R.E.A.C.H. programming. Residents begin learning fundamental youth development skills within their first thirty days in the program in P.A. groups with clinicians and staff before they graduate to the ropes course portion of the P. A. programming.

The program’s main goal is to prepare young adults for successful transitions back into the community by providing the opportunity for recovery through positive change in behavior, self-esteem and self-worth. Along with academic schooling, Spectrum R.E.A.C.H. provides residents with valuable life skills, community linkages and educational and recreational activities and outings to promote successful transitions to the community.

Programming enhancements include Dialectical Behavioral Therapy groups and additional Substance Abuse/Relapse Prevention groups. The daily schedule also includes more Project Adventure activities, team-building groups and recreational offerings. Job skills training is now part of the educational programming as well as plans for new internship opportunities and outings, such as deep sea fishing and camping trips.

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