FRIENDS AND FAMILY NIGHTS: ENGAGING OUR YOUTH AND THEIR FAMILIES IN CREATIVE WAYS
Each month Bonnie Brae hosts an evening event at which our youth residents and their families are offered the opportunity to gather and participate in an activity together. Bonnie Brae Clinician Rachael Houston is responsible for planning and coordinating these much anticipated monthly events and she has been working diligently to offer creative opportunities.
Last week’s event was called “New Year’s Yoga and Winter Wellness” and featured Bonnie Brae special education teacher and certified Yogi, Patricia Gmyrek, who led youth and families through a series of breathing and asanas (poses) designed to promote calm and wellness.
This past fall Rachael oversaw a “Paint and Snack” night at which families enjoyed snacks and created some original artwork. Transcendental music playing in the background helped to create atmosphere and ambiance. Rachael shared, “Art has a therapeutic quality and soothing motion to it and the families really enjoyed it. At these Friends and Family events, we are able to offer families an experience that is often outside the realm for many of them. Our goal is to create an atmosphere where families and kids can find new ways of being together that promote pro-social relationship behavior with each other. Oftentimes, their previous interactions have been unhealthy and these activities help them to foster and cultivate those healthy relationship skills.”
Rachael also tries to be creative in her outreach by promoting the events to each individual cottage on campus. She creates flyers for the monthly themed events and places them throughout campus and in each cottage. One of her most well attended events was this past fall’s Bingo night.
Rachael began her career at Bonnie Brae as a summer intern when she was 19. She spent two summers working in our Recreational Department and then had a winter internship with our Department of Quality Assurance. After she graduated college she became a Childcare Counselor and then began pursuit of her Master’s Degree. She completed her Clinical Internship at Bonnie Brae and returned as a Clinician. She shared, “I am really passionate about this work. The best thing about working at Bonnie Brae is that we have the opportunity to make a difference, and we can be creative in the way we make a difference.”