Thread: Helping Struggling Teens Find Their Way

struggling teens

A recent article by NPR discusses a story of four guys who are working to help struggling teens and change the social fabric of their city. Chris Regan, Eric Schiffhauer, Jordan Wagner, and Jebree Christian live in Baltimore and come from a variety of different backgrounds. Chris Regan sells golf equipment online, Eric Schiffhauer and Jordan Wagner are midway through their Ph.D.’s at Johns Hopkins University, and Jebree Christian is a recent high school graduate from West Baltimore. Each Sunday, they gather at a local diner on Baltimore’s harbor to make a change.

Their Story

These young men dedicate themselves to mentoring struggling teens. Their choice to be involved in this form of volunteer work is based off of personal experience. Growing up, there was a time when all of them were struggling teens.

The idea of Chris going to college was not in the picture. He grew up in a tough neighborhood where violence was common. Due to this, he unfortunately lost his sister—causing him to have to adapt and mature fast. He bounced around from house to house, learning how to cook and clean. Chris states:

“At 13, I mean I knew how to do everything there is possible to do. I had a perfect attendance rate all through middle school.”

Once high school came around, he hit a rough patch, and school was the first casualty causing his GPA to drop to a 1.6 by the fall quarter of his freshman year. While most teens experiencing this would remain on this path, Chris’s low grades qualified him for a second chance—a nonprofit called Thread.

Unlike most programs that select high-scoring, promising young teens, Thread chooses struggling teens who are freshmen in high school in Baltimore public schools—the average GPA of these struggling teens is a 0.15.

The Power of Five Individuals

The struggling teens are given five volunteers chosen from the community, these volunteers do anything a parent would normally do for their own child including, packing their lunch, giving them rides to school, or helping them find a summer job. The volunteers act as a team each taking on a different responsibility. One drives the student to school, and another goes by the school later to see if they’re still attending—if not another volunteer goes back to their house to take them back to school.

Since 2004, Thread has worked with hundreds of students. So far, 92 percent have graduated from high school and 80 percent have gone on to complete some form of higher education. But this is not the ultimate goal of Thread. Sarah Hemminger, the founder of Thread states that she wants the students of Thread to achieve the same goals she holds for her own daughter. Hemminger states:

“What I really want is for her to figure out what she’s great at in life and I want her to have purpose. Every single student I can think of has, at some point, said they are dropping out of Thread. We just ignore it.”

This program is changing the lives of many struggling teens, and inspiring these teens to get involved in also making a change. It’s important to remember to never give up on a child or teen who is struggling in school. GPA shouldn’t determine their potential to be considered eligible to receive help or guidance.

Elevations RTC can help

Elevations RTC is a leading residential treatment center for teens, ages 13 to 18, grappling with anxiety, depression, substance use, and other emotional or behavioral issues. As a residential treatment center for teens, we try to go above and beyond other RTC’s by having not only one on-site psychiatrist, but two practitioners who see each student weekly. We also have an academic component that uses an accredited curriculum and licensed/credentialed teachers. With all of this, we strive to give each student the most efficient and beneficial experience possible.

For more information about Elevations RTC, please call today!

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