A Letter About Luke

My name is Ruth, and I’m a Youth Associate at LSI’s Beloit Residential Treatment Center in Ames. Every day at Beloit, we work with kids who have often experienced extreme trauma. Our job is to help them overcome their pasts and build new skills that will lead to brighter futures.

I see stories of hope and healing every day at my job, but I want to share one that will stay with me always.

Luke arrived at Beloit the week before I started working at LSI. He was seven years old and had been struggling with his mental health. He was acting out physically, he struggled to attend school and pay attention in class, and he required several emergency room visits. When he arrived at Beloit, it was difficult for him to adjust to his new environment, surrounded by other children his age and strangers like me. But over time, Luke found a support system in his Beloit team.

At Beloit, we offer 24-7 intensive mental health treatment to Iowa youth. We provide children on campus with therapy and behavioral health treatment so they can build the coping skills they need to practice anger management, healthy communication, and positive decision-making.

As Luke began his therapy sessions, we noticed it was challenging for him to communicate with us, and he would often shrug and hide his face if anyone tried to comfort him. And during regular family visits with his mom, he would avoid any hugs and remain closed-off.

We knew Luke needed more individual care to help him thrive. He continued to meet with our therapy team one-on-one, with his mom, and in group settings with other kids on campus. The longer he was at Beloit, the more we learned about the things that made him happy, or made him laugh, or made him feel safe. Eventually, he became more talkative and trusted us. He knew we were right there with him, in his corner. Over time, he learned it was OK to let other people know what he was feeling.

He began hugging his mom during home visits on the weekends. In school, Luke was able to remove himself from stressful situations, and he used his newfound coping skills to calm down instead of disrupting class. He felt comfortable telling his teachers what was upsetting him. Luke’s routine and safe environment at Beloit provided a healthy place for him to heal and grow.

When I think back to the kid I first met, who was unable to control his emotions, unable to stay in school, unable to tell us what he was experiencing, it’s astounding.

I don’t know that little boy anymore.

The Luke I know has a cheeky smile, gives the best hugs, and has a desire to help others, people he doesn’t even know. He loves his mom and is able to show that. He does well in school and can always be counted on for a laugh.

This is the kid Luke was always meant to be, before life got in the way.

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