Part of that process is receiving help from the staff at Burrell Behavioral Health’s Youth Center, where he says he expects to be for another few weeks. The facility offers numerous levels of support, from an after-school program to residential care. Those efforts are augmented by the outdoor space in ways that complement treatment.
“They love our outside space,” says Amanda Mays, Burrell’s director of recovery services. “The kids love coming out here; the staff love coming out here. It’s wonderful for them to be able to come out and just hang out or sit at the picnic table or play basketball or workout. Everything is very structured here, for good reason. But it’s nice for them to be able to just come outside and do what they want.”
The adolescents at the center are there for a number of reasons, but what Mays is seeing most is fentanyl.
“Kids are using fentanyl as their drug of choice,” she says. “Instead of it being in something, they’re actually seeking that substance out.”
The center’s services are available at no cost to participants. They typically spend around eight weeks in the residential program, says Mays, who notes numerous benefits to the space, ranging from having a place to decompress to an area for family visits.
“One of the things I was shocked to learn when I started in this program was that kids don’t know how to have fun without drugs here,” Mays says, who speaks to other realizations the outdoor area offers, such as the joy of being outside, playing basketball or even simply watching the birds. “‘I really enjoy this mural here, and maybe I can draw something like that,’” Mays shares as another example. “I think there are a lot of ways this space can help.”
By Kaitlyn McConnell, writer in residence for the Community Foundation of the Ozarks