The Bronx now offers a free after school support program to help assist adolescents suffering from substance abuse and mental illnesses.
The Power Project Program, located at 3464 Webster Avenue, is funded through the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and sponsored through Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth.
The program treats MICA, mentally ill chemically addicted, youths age 12 to 17. Participants must substantiate their mental health illness, which can range from depression and conduct disorders to more serious illnesses such as bipolar disease and schizophrenia. The program directors will then test to confirm drug usage.
“This is one of the only free programs that offers these services to MICA youth,” said program director Jenifer Gilmore. “You have to have heart to work with these young people because they come with a tremendous amount of challenges, but they are such great kids.”
The program contains a case manager, mentor, program director and substance abuse counselor to monitor and develop the different services offered.
“Primarily the early part of the program is administrative tasks,” said Gilmore. “This is reaching out to parents to see how a kid’s weekend or evening may have gone. We try to give a lot of support to the parents or guardians, we follow up with the families and possibly the schools.”
When visiting with the case manager the participants can talk about specific issues they are struggling with or receive assistance in applying for working papers and passport or visas, or for help in school related issues.
The program director runs group sessions, which focus on forming interactions amongst participants and educating them about the effects of drugs and the cycle of addiction.
Group sessions may also include what is referred to as ABLE, adventure based learning experience. This is engaging the youths in games and activities that help them develop their strengths and overcome challenges to help them assimilate back into the community.
Mentoring helps model the participant’s behavior through attending activities such as job fairs and community organizations and learning grooming to boost self-esteem.
“They can come here to listen to music and just have a quiet place they can be safe in,” said Gilmore. “We want out kids to be safe and stay off the streets to keep them away from using drugs or engaging in behaviors associated with mental health issues.”
The Power Project is a flexible program that allows participant to choose what service they are in need of to get the proper support.
For more information visit www.berkshirefarm.org/PowerProject.aspx or call 718-515-7971.