Friday, September 03, 2010

Youth In The Community

Youth in the Community

Project Metamorphosis is a collaborative mobile partnership of DePaul Youth Treatment Centers that works within the structure of Portland's Homeless Youth Continuum to bring innovative peer support and healthy treatment options to young people surviving on the streets. Project Metamorphosis was initially conceived in 2001 as a partnership project including Janus Youth Programs, Depaul Treatment Centers, New Avenues for Youth, Outside In, and the Native American Youth & Family Association with the mission of addressing the alcohol, drug and mental health needs of young people experiencing homelessness in a supportive and culturally appropriate manner. With funding through grants provided by the Children’s Investment Fund (CHIF) through the City of Portland and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), Project Metamorphosis engages and encourages homeless youth to exit street life with peer outreach and highly individualized youth-friendly services integrating treatment with a comprehensive and holistic approach. One of Project Metamorphosis' nationally recognized services is our Recovery Transition Advocates program. Recovery Transition Advocates (or RTA’s as they are known downtown) are young adults serving as peer mentors, providing critical connections to youth at risk and bridging services where they are needed most through the principles of Positive Youth Development. RTA's are entry-level social workers with limited professional experience and limited educational backgrounds who gain critical skills and career-development through a closely supervised work environment. RTA’s have often experienced homelessness, substance abuse and/or mental health issues themselves and bring to the project their own personal experiences of struggle and recovery. RTA's are currently employed within the Janus Youth Shelters (Porchlight and Streetlight), Bridge House and the Janus Youth Street Outreach Programs Yellow Brick Road and O&E.

One of Project Metamorphosis's RTA’s, Sean Farrell, has recently taken a leadership role within the project by launching a clean and sober recreation program called Youth In The Community. Sean has melded his work as an entry level RTA social worker and his personal passion for volunteering to develop a program with Hands On Portland that enlists homeless and formerly homeless young people to engage in volunteer projects throughout Portland that give back and contribute to a healthier and more vibrant community. Sean has envisioned a series of monthly projects that form a curriculum around the general theme of sustainability and self-empowerment. The first project took place on August 20th at Zenger Farm, a certified organic farm located in outer South East Portland. Several youth accompanied Sean and Janus’ Street Outreach Specialist Jani Morton to the farm for an afternoon of weeding and gleaning of healthy produce. Together they learned about the importance of sustainable organic farming and were impressed to learn that even in an urban environment we can grow our own foods and take control of our nutrition and well-being. The project was well-received by the youth who attended and Sean was impressed to see them all sweating alongside each other with the single purpose of giving back to the community. More projects are already lined up for the next several months with youth participants actively steering the direction and scope of the projects. Youth In The Community is just one of the many creative ways Project Metamorphosis is supporting young people through Positive Youth Development to become reintegrated into the broader community and find their own paths to healing.

If you wish to learn more about Project Metamorphosis please feel free to contact us:
Patti Davis:
Dennis Lundberg:

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