R.E.A.L. program comes to Ville Platte Housing

Is there a workable method to reaching at-risk teens and helping them pull themselves together? According to Lula Richardson-Guillory, program manager for the Ville Platte Housing Authority, there is and it’s known as R.E.A.L. (Responsible Education and Life Skills).

Keeping it R.E.A.L.’s primary goal is to “maximize the academic potential” of students. Not just helping them pass enough classes to earn a high school diploma but to excel and move on to college, vo-tech or the work force. Teens struggle with emotional and behavioral difficulties, substance abuse and destructive family relationships - problems that make high academic performance difficult if not impossible to achieve. This in turn causes teens to turn to areas that accept them no matter what: crime and related negative behavior.

Keeping it Real hopes to thwart this behavior by:

•Being friendly and listening to the person.

•Focus on present events and some past events, only if they relate easily to the present situation.

•Discuss feelings and physiological responses as part of total behavior; always relate feelings and physiology to current actions and thoughts over which the person has more direct control.

•Accept no excuses for irresponsible behavior, particularly when a person fails to do what he or she has expressed an intention to do.

•Avoid punishing, criticizing or attempting to protect the person from the reasonable consequences of behavior.

Keeping it Real is based on the belief we all choose what we do with our lives and are responsible for our choices. Responsibility is defined as learning to choose behaviors that satisfy our needs and, at the same time, do not deprive others of a chance to do the same. Keeping it Real helps at-risk teens learn to be in effective control of their lives. It is a noncoercive method of communicating that enhances one’s ability to make effective, need-fulfilling choices.

Registration for the program will be at 5 p.m., March 31, at the City Police Substation, located across from L&V Grocery Store. The program, which is open to housing teens, ages 12 to 17, is co-sponsored by the Ville Platte Housing Department and Southern University Rural Initiative Center. The program’s facilitator will be Laura Balthazar, former St. Landry Parish Sheriff Chief Deputy. Anyone with questions wanting to volunteer their services, please call Richardson-Guillory at 459-1208.

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