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WWASP/Teen Help Debate click here

Letter by parent, Keri Doty
Hillsboro, OR 97123
(503) 681-3017
JKRDoty@teleport.com

June 17, 1999

Mrs. Tipper Gore
Office of Mrs. Tipper Gore
OEOB, Room 200
Washington, DC 20501

Dear Mrs. Gore:

I have noticed your public stand on mental health care issues and recently your specific stand on providing adequate treatment for troubled teens. I wish to share with you my family's involvement in the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs (WWASP)/Teen Help which my daughter, Rockelle, was enrolled for 19 months and our positive experience with these programs. The WWASP programs are behavior modification/positive peer culture programs which are quite effective in reaching troubled teens.

Our daughter, Rockelle, was enrolled in the Tranquility Bay program in Jamaica through WWASP/Teen Help for 15 months and then went into the transition phase of the program at Spring Creek Lodge in Thompson Falls, Montana for 4 months. I thank God for guiding us to this program. Rockelle states that sending her to this program saved her life.

Prior to entering the program my daughter was exhibiting signs of depression, talking about suicide, getting involved in the occult, defiant, taking drugs, running away, low self-esteem and no will to live as well as other strong behavioral signs of a troubled teen. As soon as the first signs were exhibited, we got her directly into counseling. The behavior continued to get worse and we had her evaluated at a local hospital for short-term treatment. We also were involved in family counseling as well. All behavior was exhibited and escalated in a short 8 months. The behavior continued to get worse and after her second runaway episode we investigated long-term treatment in which information was not easily obtainable. We got the phone number for Teen Help and received information on their various programs for teens. This program has done so much for our family. There is a strong family component that seems to be lacking in many other programs. I feel it is one of the best available at getting to the root issues of the child and family and provides the perfect environment for family healing.

The staff at these facilities are wonderful. I am forever grateful to those in Jamaica who were able to reach my daughter where no one here in the US was able to. My experience with the staff at both facilities is that they love the children they are caring for very much. My daughter has been home for 4 months. She is a powerful, confident 16-year old young woman. She currently has a 4.0 grade average this past semester at being home at high school, was voted Vice-President for student council next year, has recommitted her life to Christ and is heavily involved in her youth group. She will be going on a mission trip this summer to Mexico to help at an orphanage in Ensenada. She desires to go to college and also to possibly go back and work at one of the program facilities where she attended. She has a new lease on life. She loves and respects herself and others. I cannot express to you what an answer to prayer this was for our family. I praise God for his intervention in her life. I would encourage you to find out more about this program as I have seen literally hundreds of miracles in how it has changed the lives of teens who would appear to many to be lost causes. As far as I'm concerned, there is no teen too lost for help. It is a matter, however, of getting appropriate, effective help for that child. I would love to see a centralized place where parents could get information regarding effective treatment programs and in-depth information about such programs to make an informed decision.

I know that many of the families who have enrolled children in the WWASP programs were at the end of their rope on what to do to help their child. They had already previously exhausted many funds through counseling, short-term treatment, and other programs all to no avail. These programs are expensive. I have not witnessed any programs related to mental health/residential treatment which were not. We are a middle income family and have come close to bankruptcy in putting our daughter through this program but no one can put a price on a life and it was worth every dime and much more. It is my desire to see this help available to ALL who need it, to have it covered by insurance companies or funds available to those who are not able to afford it. Every time I see a story on a teen suicide, shootings such as Springfield and Littleton, and other extreme teen actions, I am in tears and I think if only the parents had the information to know there is help out there! My heart cries out for these families as once something irrevocable happens, it is too late for they have already lost their child.

My purpose in writing this is to share our story that there is effective treatment out there for extreme teens and these programs are literally saving hundreds of lives. It is a matter of getting appropriate information available to parents who are seeking to intervene for their child. I would appreciate any input you may have on this subject. Thank you for listening.

Sincerely,


Keri L. Doty

PO Box 1671 | Bonners Ferry, ID 83805 | 208-267-5550
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