By Mary McPhail Gray
“I am having a bad Christmas because I am not with my family!” said a TBH youth client in foster care. “But this is the best break I have ever had because when I come to camp, they help me to not feel alone.”
This past holiday season TBH organized four therapeutic groups serving more than 60 students from elementary school through high school. And the staff—with the freedom of programing through entire days and with special support from a large number of Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque businesses– planned unique enrichment activities. Heard in the groups:
“It’s really cool that TBH could take us to all these fun trips. I feel really lucky.”
“My dream has been to see a ballet and I feel so happy that I got to see the Nutcracker.”
“We are lucky to be part of this group because it helps us to feel better and be better students.”
All four groups were able to go bowling with the special support of Gutters’ reduction of the cost. At the bowling lanes, there is equipment that supports youth from 5 to 18 to try this sport. All groups also had wonderful hours sledding at the Taos Ski Valley.
These two activities each present the challenge of a physical sport which may be an entirely new experience and a scary one at that. These experiences give the TNH staff an opportunity to process these feelings with their students.
The group of middle school and high school students had special experiences: attending the Nutcracker ballet at the Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque and a special educational experience at Meow Wolf in Santa Fe. None of the youth or the staff had ever attended a professional ballet and there were wide eyes and smiles all around. The mixed age group allowed for some special peer to peer learning and support.
The elementary aged groups also had special experiences designed for them. They were hosted at the Harwood Museum of Art in experiential art classes with museum volunteers who helped them be successful. They also had the generous support of the Taos High School students and administrators to use some of the facilities. Members of the High School boy’s basketball team led the boys in basketball drills and girls were taught drills by the High School Cheerleading squad. The older students were wonderfully positive and supportive of the youth.
The Taos School system was supportive in allowing the Ranchos Elementary group to have use of the entire Ranchos building as was also provided to the group at Enos Elementary. At Enos, the students were given a large number of huge packing boxes to use in some group art/construction project. They enthusiastically designed a fort—complete with a microwave and a toilet—the essentials of life!
All of the groups were also able to attend a movie at Storyteller Theater with the ongoing support of the management providing reduced prices for tickets and refreshments. The Family and Youth Center has provided ongoing access and the groups were able to schedule time there.
These unique experiences gave our clients the chance to meet some new friends and learn some skills that can’t be easily programed in an afterschool time slot. The groups all had discussions of how they were able to access these experiences and were able to write and draw thank you messages to the businesses and the TBH administration—a great social lesson.
TBH wishes to express our deep appreciation for the generosity of staff and management of all these organizations. Together they represent deeply valuable support in raising our youth to be successful contributing citizens.
Taos Behavioral Health has the largest credentialed and licensed behavioral health professionals in northern New Mexico. We can be reached at 575-758-4297, 105 Bertha, and www.taosbehavioralhealth.org.
Mary McPhail Gray is the board chair of TBH and can be reached at 575-779-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.