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Getting Rodney the right things

May 17, 2013


The difference was staggering.

Even people outside the home noticed the change for the better.

Here’s Rodney playing football, sitting in class without disrupting, being respectful to his teachers and his mother. But mom remembers the near decade before this change.

“He could go from zero to 10 super-quick,” his mother, Kimbella, said. “People told us it was him just being a teenager, or it was just him acting out. But I know Rodney, and it wasn’t him.”

Youth Villages Family Intervention Specialist Zaneta Barnett’s first priority was to get Rodney set up with a physician.

The family found out Rodney’s bipolar disorder could be treated effectively with proper medication, which almost eliminated his behavior issues of physical and verbal aggression.

“Many of his other behavior issues still had to be dealt with after we addressed the medication,” Zaneta, whom they called “Miss Z,” said. “They’re a great family, and we needed to go to the school and establish that connection with them and also establish some boundaries at home.”

Rodney’s outbursts before had many times resulted in him getting what he wanted. In a small apartment with five family members, doing that meant keeping the peace.

But Kimbella wanted something more – she wanted her son back.

“Now I can have a conversation with him,” she said. “Now he goes to school and football practice. He’s contemplating joining the debate team.”

Zaneta worked with the school, even sitting in on some of Rodney’s classes, to show both the school and Rodney the level of commitment and support he was receiving.

In return, as he earned the trust of his family, Rodney began earning more freedom. On those occasions when he gets worked up, he uses relaxation skills he learned from Zaneta.

“I’m thankful it got better, and it’s still improving,” Kimbella said. “Between the medication and Youth Villages, he’s improved so much.”

Rodney also has a mentor and plans to participate in track and field. At 15, he still has issues from time to time, but it’s different – now he’s just being a teenager.

“Youth Villages was the best thing that ever happened to him,” Kimbella said. “And I don’t know where I’d be without Youth Villages.”

“They are a great family,” Zaneta said. “Once Rodney saw the amount of support for him, he began to hold himself accountable and he’s accomplished a lot in a small amount of time.”

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