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Young ‘drama queen’ finds her place to shine

April 19, 2012

Lacey Hochman, a family intervention specialist with the Intercept program in Woburn, Mass., shares her story of working with 12-year-old Jordan to provide a first-hand glimpse into the difference extracurricular activities made in the life of one child.

Jordan’s mom once listed the nasty terms that had been used to describe her daughter: “out-of-control,” “nut-job,” “bossy,” “loud,” “spastic,” “hyperactive,” “drama queen.” Her mom had heard those negative descriptions so often that even she wondered if there was any hope for Jordan.

I was assigned to help mother and daughter learn to live successfully at home and in the community through the Youth Villages intensive in-home services program. In family sessions, sometimes you’ve got to get a little bit creative in order to…well, have a session!

To have conversations with Jordan, who often seemed to be jumping right out of her own skin, I had to utilize some creative coping mechanisms to address important topics. Sometimes this meant that we’d take short dance breaks, and she’d jump around the room like a sugared-up trampolinist. Other times, we’d break out the modeling clay so Jordan could keep her hands busy while we talked.

Making faces became my favorite in-session tool. After making faces, Jordan was more attentive, but the activity also helped in other ways. One of the faces we discovered was deemed “The Marie Antoinette,” and it would become Jordan’s mom’s “go-to” tool when she needed Jordan to listen quietly. It’s very hard to speak when you’re making the Marie Antoinette face – lips pursed together, arms splayed out to the sides. It was also just about impossible for her mom to be upset with Jordan when she was laughing with her!

You might be able to guess at this point why a girl like Jordan needs to direct her high level of energy constructively. She couldn’t find ways to communicate with peers and would easily go into tantrums when she did not get her way. She had trouble with her teachers and following directions, which caused multiple school suspensions. She was originally referred to Youth Villages after spending months in psychiatric hospitals.

Fortunately, with some financial support, Jordan was able to participate in Bootstraps, a program where young people learn about theater. The kids build sets, write, act, sing, drum and direct an entire musical on the Wang Theatre stage in downtown Boston — the same stage that hosts touring Broadway productions.

On opening night, I felt lucky to have the opportunity to see this young “drama queen” in action. To see Jordan standing in a powerful white spotlight, singing, acting and hip-hop dancing (I didn’t even know she was a hip-hop dancer!) was just wonderful.

Finally, every bit of this incredible firecracker of a kid made sense. On stage, she could be loud and energetic. She’d finally found her place – a big enough stage to showcase her incredible personality.

I want to thank all of you who support our efforts to provide positive extracurricular activities to the youth in our programs. Without your generous support of fundraisers like the Baggo Tournament, it would be impossible for Youth Villages to give children like Jordan extracurricular opportunities where they can discover their talents and learn to shine.

Thank you!

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