Tony's Story - Project Atlas

Tony, (we have changed his name) was one of 4 young men who took part in a Project in 2010 that lasted 2years and culminated in a residential change programme in France. Tony came from a large family and had experienced physical and emotional abuse from a very early age, witnessing domestic violence towards his mother and often putting himself in harms way to protect her. Tony began taking Class B drugs as a distraction from the constant round of abuse he experienced and when he was referred to Adventure Education was a heavy user of Cannabis and had a poor diet. With income low in the home he often went without meals so that his siblings could eat. He presented significant emotional problems of uncontrolled anger often lapsing into bouts of depression which in turn led to more drug and alcohol abuse; at the point when AE met him he was virtually feral and lived form day to day sleeping where he could.

Over the years he was involved in the project, along with the other 3 young men all of which had experienced a similar upbringing, Tony responded positively to all interventions. Building Rapport during the early months was essential in order for him to understand the process of change he was to go through. Various short weekends and day trips climbing, hiking and canoeing served to build a level of trust and confidence in our approach and to build a personal relationship with Practitioners as we worked towards the change programme residential in France. Using the metaphor of a journey of discovery, the physical journey of change began and the boys all helped plan an d carried out small fund raising events for their own personal contribution to the cost; an essential element in the process allowing participants to feel that they had earned their place.

The residential itself – the actual journey metaphor experienced live, involved a 12hr drive to Toulouse where they stayed in self catering accommodation for the week. Relaxation and state management techniques were taught in a group setting before the individual “change day” where they explored the origins of their negative emotions and through a talking therapy approach disconnected and resolved these negative emotions and replaced them with positive resources for life.

Since then Tony has experienced ups and downs and has been supported periodically by AE mentors when he has asked for help. This is a crucial factor in rehabilitation as the whole process Is a “do with” rather than a “Do to” requiring permission elicited by the client asking for help and support. Tony has recently left home and with the help of full time employment has begun the process for turning life round again. He is supported in this process by AE mentors who are helping with simple life skills such as budgeting, debt management as well as supporting him in reducing his cannabis consumption.