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“He apologized to me and told me he was going to work on his behavior. It was hard to believe that this was my son!”

For staff who work directly with children, those words from the parent of a child receiving services are some of the best you can hear.

In this case, Shanice Lash from Beech Brook’s REACH program – Releasing Excellent Alternative Community Help – heard those words from the mother of her 9-year old client who she had been working with for about two months. Shanice, who has been with Beech Brook’s REACH program for six months, has loved being able to make an impact on children and their families who are struggling. And REACH, in coordination with Beech Brook's School-Based program, does exactly that.

All children enrolled in the REACH program get help learning the life skills they will need to thrive throughout their lives: how to problem-solve; healthy coping skills when they are sad, angry, or bored; how to regulate their emotions; appropriate ways to interact with others. These are not skills that people are born with - they are skills we learn, and not all children have had the opportunity to learn them.


Collin, with whom Shanice is working through the REACH program, was having a hard time following directions, would bully his younger brother, and would even leave the house repeatedly without permission. His mom wanted some help and Beech Brook stepped in.

Even though REACH services often begin through school referrals, REACH workers travel throughout the community to work with their clients wherever they need help. Often, they work with the children in their schools because that’s where their problems are most visible, but they also go to their homes and help improve functioning within the family, if that’s where the problems exist.

"It’s the little moments that make such a big difference, and Collin showing a little bit of learned empathy towards his mom made her happy and more willing to reinforce the positive behaviors when she sees them.”

For Collin, his problems weren’t happening in school. In that environment, Shanice saw a young boy who was able to keep up with his work and was respectful to his teachers. But once she visited him at his day care classroom after school, Shanice saw the behaviors reported by mom immediately. “He wasn’t listening, he would talk back, and just wasn’t able to control the energy he had inside,” Shanice recalls.

After talking with Collin about his behaviors at day care, she realized that many of his behaviors were coming from a lack of structure in that environment that he seems to have in school. She started working with him on those important life skills that can help him function more appropriately in all environments. Shanice is focusing on helping him learn how to cope with frustration and boredom in healthy ways, listen to his teachers in day care, and treat his family with more respect.

That’s what led to this unprompted phone call from Collin’s mother, thanking Shanice for the change she saw in her son that day. Shanice had talked with Collin about empathy and looking at things from his family’s point of view, which he took to heart. Collin’s mom said that he apologized for not doing his chores and for leaving the house without permission, something he never expressed regret over before.

“Collin still has a long way to go,” Shanice says, “but hearing that his family is already seeing a difference is so encouraging. It’s the little moments that make such a big difference, and Collin showing a little bit of learned empathy towards his mom made her happy and more willing to reinforce the positive behaviors when she sees them.”

There are countless stories like Collin’s – and all of them are significant. Sure, clients enrolled in REACH may still get in trouble sometimes, but REACH helps them become aware of their behaviors that are causing problems and helps them develop the skills they need to make better choices so that they can succeed in school and at home.

In other words, REACH helps children develop the independent skills they need throughout their lives so that they can thrive!

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