UCAN’s exciting partnership with Chicago Adventure Therapy helps underserved Chicago youth have a lasting impact on their communities and become healthy adults. The aim of Adventure Therapy is to give participants motivation by providing them with opportunities for new experiences and responsibility. Youth are placed in unique environments where they can learn to build new skill sets, take responsibility and have more control over their environment than they might normally have in their everyday lives.
UCAN’s Adventure Therapy group started in 2012 as an extracurricular activity for students attending North Lawndale College Preparatory High School and now includes youth who receive services from UCAN. The group is led by licensed therapists while the activities are run through Chicago Adventure Therapy staff members. Activities include wall climbing, kayaking and camping in multiple locations throughout the Midwest.
17-year-old Zack, one of ten UCAN participants in 2015, came to the program through a referral from his therapist who suggested that he attend the annual kayaking trip to Gitiche Gumee (Lake Superior). His therapist thought the program would be a good fit for Zack due to his love of athletic activity. She also felt that it would be a good stress reliever for him.
When asked what he liked best about the program Zack stated, “I really like camping and also now I am better at kayaking.” He proudly spoke about his one-star kayaking certification that he achieved through the program, “My one-star certification means I can rescue people, I can rescue myself and I know how to kayak.” He explained that he also learned important survival, interpersonal and leadership skills.
Recalling how the program has helped him, Zack said, “For the most part I did not like talking to strangers. It [adventure therapy] helped me open up to new people. I got better at getting to know people. It is a great overall experience. You can take something from it, feel better about yourself and you’re improved in some way.”
For more information about UCAN’s innovative programming visit: https://www.ucanchicago.org/our-programs/.