It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted anything to this–or any other–blog. Living on a peripheral island at the juncture of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, internet service leaves much to be desired, and had become frustrating enough to become more an oppressing ordeal than a fun way of sharing news, thoughts, tips, etc.
Over the past several months, I have been involved in mediating an Aggression Replacement Training (ART) program–with a lot of help from other trainers–for a group of elementary level boys that are part of a Little League team than insists on academics before practice. The academic emphasis of the team’s leadership has helped the boys and girls on the team do better in school and (hopefully) see the importance of learning to their future lives. Now, I have to state that Coach Tom has helped produce several local players into professional ball players–which I will try to name after I get the names to stick in my head–and that in itself is a strong motivator for some of the boys. The problem is that many of the boys that come to the team have behavioral issues that keep them from practicing or playing in a game or both. And that’s where the ART program comes in.
Over a year ago, I took a training course that was meant to be a “train the trainers” workshop. Fortunately for me, all the participants were in the same situation I was in, thinking that this session was to teach us how to run the program for groups of kids who need help controlling anger issues. Many of the participants work with older, secondary-level kids; I and the Little League personnel–Coach Tom and his lovely wife Lisa–were the only ones working with younger kids. Unfortunately, just as we had gotten started, I became very ill–twice in quick succession–and was unable to fully participate in training the kids. The problem was that I needed to show active participation in order to receive my certificate from the Dutch-based company licensed to give the training here in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which includes Sint Maarten where I live. And, although there was more documentation than actually needed, I was not able to meet all the necessary requirements and was not awarded the certificate we were told was needed to administer the program on our own. So, thanks to the support of Coach Tom and Ms. Lisa, we put together a program “by the book” which went very well and was observed twice by a member of the juvenile division of the Department of Justice. The day before the final “wrap-up” program, I was called away to Florida because my husband was about to undergo unexpected surgery. I’m back on the island now, almost a month after I left off, and we are planning a week-long review session with a “grand finale” consisting of an intense two-day skill review which we hope the representative from Justice will be able to attend (she had planned to attend the last finale event before my husband’s emergency).
The point is that while my internet connection creates lots of wasted time, I’ve been out and about working with kids several days a week that could benefit from learning how to control some of their anger issues as they deal with various situations in school, on the baseball field, at home, and around town and island. As any educator or practicing psychologist of any therapy knows, we can only hope that the skills we help kids attain will be ones that they will thing about and use not only now but in the future–when they can more maturely evaluate the reasons they were taught the skills to begin with. I certainly hope that’s true for this group. Kids with problems may not seem as lovable as those without, but they are the ones who need attention and acceptance more strongly to allow them to grow as individuals. The social skills they are learning will hopefully not only help them master their tendency to fly into anger, but will also help them learn how to get along better with others. Right now, this group’s focus is on how to get along on the team and on the playing field as well as with competing players. Later in life, these same skills will help them get and keep jobs, make friends, and provide a more balanced and fruitful life.
So it’s back to work for me. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep you up to date on what’s happening with the team’s behavior. Or maybe I’ll be moving on to something else. We’ll see.
Until next time!