YMCA’s Phoenix School Gets Kids on the Right Track – 2013-06-14

YMCA’s Phoenix School

By: Katie Sobiech

Kids these days face a lot. There are multitudes of kids with different issues, and the proper care isn’t always easy to find.

Where do kids with special needs and behavior issues go to get the help they need to stay in school?

The Akron area YMCA’s Phoenix Alternative School provides a place where troubled youth, grades 4-12th, can receive close attention, getting them back on track and into their school systems quickly.

“The focus is on behavior management,” Tony Grimes, East Akron YMCA, Executive Director, said of the program.

The average student stays for 6 months, about a semester long, before returning to their public school.

Part of the YMCA

This YMCA program’s roots go back to 1972 when a juvenile court judge and YMCA board members noticed a number of kids being suspended from school.

“It was a probation violation to be suspended, so back then they would lock the kids up while they were suspended,” Grimes explained.

“So they asked the YMCA if they’d collaborate with the juvenile court on a daytime treatment program for suspended youth. That’s how the school was born,” he continued.

Working with Public Schools

“School districts caught wind and (wanted to get on board too) so we were chartered in 1988,” Grimes said.

Now they work closely with the public school districts.

What makes them different is that their primary focus is on behavior, not necessarily academics.

Why it Works

“We don’t punish negative behavior – we confront negative behavior but reward positive behavior,” Grimes shared.

They also help kids with anger issues to develop coping skills and create future goals.

The classroom contains about fourteen students and two staff, so students get more individual attention.

Turning Things Around

“We’ve absolutely seen kids change. We’ve had some great success stories,” Grimes said of their achievements.

One student in particular comes to mind for Grimes.

“A lot of the time his anger was misplaced,” Grimes said.

But after attending the Phoenix School “This kid became a very good basketball player and is on to Gilmore Academy (to further his career). He really turned around,” he continued.

If your child seems to be in need of help in the areas of behavioral management and making better choices, you may want to look into this program.

For more information, please visit http://www.akronymca.org , or call 330.784.0408.

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