Charlie’s story

Charlie, aged 14 years, had problematic behaviours at school. He often skipped school, used cannabis and hung out with a heavily-substance using friend group. 

He was quietly spoken, energetic, strong and a willing participant throughout the program.During the first few days he spoke mainly to a few of the participants who he knew already and felt comfortable with.

But after the ‘River of Life’ therapeutic process and hearing everyone’s stories, Charlie felt much closer and less judgemental towards them. He felt guilty for judging them before and now realised that everyone always has a story and everyone has reasons for behaving the way they do.

In the second half of the program, specifically, after ‘The River of Life’ sharing exercise, Charlie’s behaviours started to noticeably change. He began mixing with the whole group and taking on more leadership opportunities. He was more interested in being around those who demonstrated leadership qualities and engaged more with the staff members.

In the ‘Honouring Circle’ exercise, several staff members commented that they viewed him like ‘a younger brother’ who they cared for, also that they believe he can achieve great things in his life, if he takes action and makes good decisions for himself.

In follow-up conversations with his mother, she said Charlie had been taking positive steps to move away from the behaviours of his friends group and had significantly reduced his substance use. School support staff reported that Charlie’s school attendance and participation had increased significantly, and he seemed much more enthusiastic about life.  Charlie reported feeling more motivated since the program and was determined to maintain positive changes for himself, saying that he “wants to become a good man”.

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