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  Rites of Passage Success Stories

MARLON:  When 10 year old father-absent Marlon came to our program, he was described by referring sources (school and single mother) as being undisciplined, unruly, impulsive and generally unaccustomed to following rules.

We were also told that he couldn’t sit still, and was rebellious and defiant. Additionally, his grades plummeted and his stressed-out mother was at her wits end after having visited her son’s school 25 times at the beginning of the semester due to what was described as Marlon’s disruptive behavior.

Whereas his referrers were doubtful about Marlon’s capacity for change, at IROP we knew based on our commitment and experience, that if we were able to engage Marlon in a meaningful way (by allowing him to be exposed to our “average expectable environment” that’s mutually frustrating and gratifying enough to stimulate growth) he’d be able to achieve age appropriate behavioral and academic goals.

By the beginning of his second semester in IROP, Marlon made a good adjustment. He decided on improving good grades as well as improving his behavior at home and in school. He was also determined and willing to allow himself to be disciplined as a way of successfully accomplishing his goals. At the end of the school year, Marlon excelled in school. As a result, not only was he awarded for academic and behavioral improvement by his school; he also received a citation from Brooklyn Borough President for behavioral and academic excellence.

 “The Rites of passage program’ exclaimed Marlon, “has taught me the value of self-discipline, as reflected in my ability to respect myself and others; my capacity to strive for excellence, not excuses; and my ability to respond not react.” It was Marlon’s choice to allow the program structure to help him to become self-controlled and responsible. Our Rites of passage program is a proven way in which children can be helped to be put on the right path if they will but allow themselves to be helped.

ROBERT: Ten year old Robert spent two semesters in IROP program. He came to IROP for “acting out” behavior and plummeting grades in school. Robert’s behaviors were normal reactions his parent’s separation. In our work with Robert, we were able to help his mother reconnect with his father who resided in New Jersey. Thereafter, Robert spent two weeks with his father during the summer of 2007. In addition, he began spending weekends with his father.

From the time Robert reengaged with his father, his behavior was markedly improved, he regained social confidence and his school grades improved. Robert graduated from elementary school this semester with honors and additionally received two awards; one for ball-room dancing; the other for excellence in mathematics. Through individual counseling Robert also developed the confidence and competence required for survival in middle school.

Roberts' mother entered counseling to enable her to cope with changes in her family system. His father is in the process of moving back to Brooklyn where he could be readily available to his son. Robert’s parents offer us a sterling example of how divorced and separated parents may work together in the interest of their children. Kudos to Robert’s parents for modeling an approach which separated parents may use to meet the needs of their children. Despite their separation, they were able to find common grounds for working together in the best interest of their child.

MIKHEL: Mikhel’s parents were newly divorced when he entered our rites of passage program. He was severely affected by the separation. This was manifested in social withdrawal, a drop in school grades, conflict with his younger sibling and general irritabilities. After spending forty weeks in our rites of passage program, bolstered by individual counseling sessions, Mikhel’s grades and behavior improved to the amazement of his mother and school teachers. In her public declaration at his graduation, she gave a litany of improvements she noticed in him. She also indicated that “ Mikhel’s achievement in IROP program is beyond what I expected.”

AARON: Aaron was very respectful. However, at his initiation into Imani Rites of Passage he was unable to conceal his resistance to being in the program and indicated several times during check-in or sharing time that “I am only attending the program because my mother insists on me being here.” His resistance was evidenced in silence, struggle to participate in many group activities, unwillingness to eat snacks and is immediate retreat to his home after group sessions without participating in the usual socializing ritual of his peers.

On the third week of the program, Aaron went on a mandatory weekend trip in the prestigious Sunterra Resort in Virginia (see photo gallery) where he participated in indoor and outdoor activities in addition to intensive training. The following week when Aaron returned to the Brooklyn rites of passage setting, it was quite noticeable that his attitude and persona had changed radically. He demonstrated improved social skills which enabled him to make friends, fellowship and play with his peers, as well as the partaking of snacks without nudging. Aaron’s experience is a classic example of how life skills deficits in children and young people may be remedied through IROP.


Rites of Passage