In September 2016, I read this article in the New York Times and had a eureka. The program I had thought about for years had actually been developed. Not that I had worked it out to the detail it is or had any of the research behind it that this program does! But I thought if only we had some life skills to offer those with personality traits that potentially could get kids into trouble. Good kids who were probably very talented and had a lot of promise.
It took a couple of days research to find the Preventure program mentioned in the article and when I got the contact name, I reached out to Dr. Patricia Conrod in Montreal. Within 15 minutes she emailed back that no one in the United States so far was interested in the program. Except one person. Dr. Jasmin Vassileva at VCU Institute of Drug and Alcohol Studies. One person in all of the U.S. and she happened to work literally four miles from my house and lived less than two miles away.
We met, put together a public seminar in December 2016, submitted a grant three times to NIDA in partnership with Dr. Conrod. Then I asked my board at Beacon Tree if we could pilot one or two schools in the Richmond area in the fall.
Meanwhile I had to get a school or two schools through the approval process. It helped that we had the support of senators in Virginia as well as superintendents and principals. But there was skepticism. Of course. And I waited. I met with and talked to potential candidates. Finally, two schools about the right size were approved.
We got accepted into the Newman’s Own Foundation Holiday Challenge and ran a crowdrise campaign. We raised $15k and that was doubled by Newman’s Own Foundation for a total of $30k, $8k of which was slated for our OnRamp program to pay for Beacon Tree’s childhood psychological evaluations and mental health treatment. That left $23k to run the pilot programs.
Today was the first day of training for Preventure
I had to pinch myself that it was real. That we really were going to do this. I didn’t believe it until the trainer, Hanie, landed safely at the airport.
And as we went through the training and the manuals today, I could see how it worked. After working with so many teens on coping strategies and problem solving, sharing my story and my pain with them, there were moments today where I could see where the light bulb would go off and how they’d make the connections on their own based on how the program is designed for this population.
I love how the program doesn’t separate substance abuse from those with mental illness traits but focuses on life skills training that benefits both the student with one disorder or co-occuring disorders.
In short, it’s going to be worth it. I feel it. It’s real tools our teens can use to funnel those potentially troublesome traits into personality advantages. Because while Preventure focuses on four traits that lead to addiction and other high risk behaviors (dropping out of school, suicide, landing in jail), those same traits are ones that create our most successful and innovative entrepreneurs, our Olympic athletes and our most creative performers and musicians. And currently we are losing too many of these kids which is a huge loss to humanity.
It’s here. All the hard work and setbacks were worth it. Beacon Tree is piloting in the fall of 2018 at two schools in Richmond VA.
I did all of this in memory of my son, Charles Aubrey Rogers who died by suicide as a result of addiction and depression and would have been 23 on April 26, 2018.
Thank you to Westminster Presbyterian for the space and assistance to host. Centra Hospital KidsGetBetter.com and The Coleman Institute for sponsoring coffee and food for the two-day training. To Virginia Recovery Foundation for their partnership, financial and community support. To VCU Institute of Drug and Alcohol Studies for their partnership and support with data collection and implementation. To the University of Montreal for working with us to make it happen. The Newman’s Own Foundation that allowed us to double our donations to run the pilot. And to VCU Health for your continued support of our mission on so many levels.
Special thanks to these contributors to the Crowdrise campaign that launched this pilot:
Vincent and Amy Nadder, In memory of EagleEye (DP)
Grace and David Gallagher, Cameron Gallagher Foundation
Dr. Neil Sonenklar
Georgia Wiley, in memory of Breslin Thomas Wiley
Peter B. Cleal
Bruce & Kathy Mann, In memory of Charles Rogers
Nancy Van Voorhis
Susan Snowa, We will always remember Charles.
Lee Anne Russell
Catherine Gray, For all of our children, and in memory of those we love
Tim And Betty Rose Sexton
Mary And Bob Call
Compass CPAs of Virginia, Gail Howerton, n honor of Karman and Benjamin you bring joy to my every day
Rosalind Watkins, JHW Foundation, In memory of Henry Watkins
Linda Bilger, On The Spot Flooring
Joel Morgan, JoelMorgan.com
Thomas Anderson, IT for Causes, Keep up the great work, BeaconTree!
Michael Zohab, VRF Virginia Recovery Foundation (Pilot Partner), Let’s make a difference!
Anne Moss Rogers, Emotionally Nakedn in memory of my son, Charles, and all the other children who suffer mental illness
Randy And Anne Moss Rogers, In memory of Charles Rogers
Howard and Kelly Deskin, In memory of Charles Rogers
Matthew and Molly Cheek
Thomas and Diana Leahy
Richard Rogers (my oldest son), In memory of Charles Aubrey Rogers
Barbara O’Donnell, In memory of Charles Rogers
Jasmin Vassileva, PhD, VCU Institute of Drug & Alcohol Studies
Janice Hall, In Loving memory of our son, Curt Anthony Jack Hall, and to all the people who are touched by suicide.💙
Tom Suzie Metzger
Ronald Broocks, In memory of Patti Broocks
Tony and Amy Sumner, In memory of Charles Rogers
ANN M HARRIS, In memory of Charles Rogers
Kelly Hicks, n memory of Daniel, Gibson and too many others
Peter Coleman, The Coleman Institute