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Otis Eckhardt, a high school student at The Hub Therapeutic Program realized that he wasn't thriving in school and needed more than what a traditional classroom could provide for him. The solution--Eckhardt advocated for himself to be accepted into The Hub program.
"I wasn't really learning anything--I got my credits but I wasn't learning and I wasn't doing well with like mental health stuff," Eckhardt said.**
Students at The Hub do not experience a typical school day. When students arrive, a staff member will ask them how they are feeling, and based on their self-assessment the student works with the staff to make a plan for the day. Sometimes students need to spend some extra time chatting with their therapist, or they are ready to take an exam, or they need to spend quality time with Milo the therapy dog.
"That's the beauty of it: we individualize the entire day. There isn't a traditional day-to-day. At any given time students will be out doing community-based activities," said Jason St. Mary, LPYS Executive Director.**
The Durango School District 9-R, La Plata Youth Services, and La Plata County Human Services developed Th Hub program as an innovative approach to helping youth with the most challenging needs meet their school and life goals. The Hub classroom is an alternative for students who have tried everything else without success. The program even has ongoing input from a local pediatrician, Dr. Heidi McMillan who also serves as Medical Director for The Hub.
"I think it is a brilliant model because it really leverages what we have in the community rather than necessarily creating everything new," McMillan said.**
Although the holistic approach of The Hub program could not be scaled to an entire school, the leadership team is interested in integrating the program philosophy into the La Plata County school system. It is the building of relationships with trusted adults, the focus on social-emotional learning, and individualized support that makes The Hub program so successful. Having a more open-minded lens can make all the difference for a young person who is at risk of falling through the cracks.
As for Otis Eckhardt, he recently had the chance to learn how to spin plates while on stilts at a Durango circus school as part of his school day. It was a boost to his confidence and he now shows up for school and life in an entirely different way thanks to The Hub.
**Direct quotes are taken from the Durango Herald article.
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