COLORADO SPRINGS — Children in Colorado are reporting mental health struggles in record numbers, and for some teenagers, that can cross over into substance use issues.
New Visions Recovery Solutions is an organization in Colorado Springs that offers a variety of youth programs, including individual therapy, group therapy, mentoring, and summer camp. It serves adolescents going through substance use struggles, behavioral health issues, and those with special needs. The program provides positive outlets for children, which include exercise, hiking, swimming, and archery.
"These kids just have a lot of pent up energy and pent up anxiety that needs to be expelled somehow. And that's why we found that arts, crafts, physical activity, talking, all those things are better resources... For sobriety or staying out of trouble to appeal to them, they have to have some fun doing it too. And they have to still get that adventurous need met," said Nate Wilson, the co-owner and program director of New Visions Recovery Solutions.
Wilson said New Visions Recovery Solutions has been around for about two years. "I've been off of meth and heroin for about 12 years, haven't drank in about five years, and that's kind of where the passion comes from. I was one of these kids that we're working with," said Wilson.
One of the clients at New Visions Recovery Solutions is Madison McKnight, who is 17 years old. McKnight said she first used methamphetamine at the age of 12. She's now been sober for about 18 months. "Sobriety's amazing. I'm back to being myself. I'm bubbly, I'm happy, I'm always smiling... When I got sober, I had to drop all of my old friends because they were all using. And so I was so scared of being alone, so I started coming to groups here, and I made some friends, and made connections with people. It was just a sober environment where I could be myself but also get help with what I was going through," said McKnight.
"I did not think I would get sober. I didn't think I would escape the spot I was in. I thought I was gone. I thought I ruined my life. And now I'm happy again, I do things with my family, I do things with positive friends... I'm truly living now, I'm not just surviving, like I was."
Sarah Sims is an administrator and mentor at New Visions Recovery Solutions. Sims said she gets fulfillment out of her work when the teenagers tell her how much it benefits them. "I will meet up with some of our mentees, and I'll take them out into the community and do different activities like rock climbing or going hiking. Today I met with a mentee and we made friendship bracelets together... It's important to be able to have adults and peers to speak with when they may not feel comfortable to go to their parents at home," said Sims.
On Mondays and Wednesdays through mid-August, New Visions Recovery Solutions offers summer camp from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Summer camp is one of the free resources provided by the organization.
There is also a support group that meets on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. for people over 16 years old.
New Visions Recovery Solutions does take certain insurance. Mentoring sessions cost around $55, and individual counseling rates are around $130.