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Schools & Program Visits - Feb, 2001 Issue #78 

Bahia de Kino, Mexico
John Andersen, Ex. Dir.

Visit in Jan, 2001 
By Steve Bozak CEP, Educational Consultant 
Albany NY 

In the state of Sonora Mexico, on the beach, currently 53 boys between the ages of 13 to 19 have found a home, a school and a place to build their skills for academics and everyday life. These boys here have had difficulties academically and behaviorally, and before they arrived, were described as ODD, ADHD, and Bipolar. Now, in this cultural classroom, things are falling into place for them. Two of the 3 school buildings are right on the beach and Director, John Andersen, says he has room for a maximum of 62 students. 

Hermosillo is the nearest city and airport for this school. The students can be picked up there, or if accompanied by an adult, car rental is available at this airport. It is about an hour’s drive over the desert to this Kino beach location. Each boy is assigned to one of the three houses that is most appropriate for their needs, either the Oceanography house, the Breakthrough house or Vida house.

Supervision is constant and they don’t have any chance to have unsupervised contact with outsiders. No contraband gets into the school. 

The Academics are self-directed. The teachers can be seen working one on one with the students as they do school work from Keystone National High School curriculum. The positive peer culture and 12 step program helps keep kids in line, helped by ‘Life Coaches’ who teach the solution-centered life skills the boys need in order to change their negative behavior patterns. About 90 Kids have already gone through this program over the last two years. 

Dr Keith Brieland, a Psychiatrist and part owner of this program, visits the campus regularly along with the 5 therapists who reside at the school. There are 12 professional staff, including 2 certified teachers. Counting the part time staff, there are about 50 employees. Group and individual counseling occurs regularly and AA meetings are available. Kids call home once a week at first but later on in the program they may call more often. Parents are invited to the school about every 2 months for face-to-face family therapy and parent retreats are offered every 6 months. Biweekly phone updates are given to the family or more often as needed. 

Lots of good food is served, up to US standards, but mostly a Mexican menu consisting of rice, beans, meats and fish. With the outdoor activities on the beach and in the Desert Mountains, the kids look strong and healthy. Camping a few days at a time with experiential therapy provides a strong hands-on learning for the kids. Hiking over the Mountains and deep sea fishing keeps the students in touch with themselves and nature’s beauty. There are many things to explore in Kino. 

Community service keeps the boys busy and conscious of others as they help with improvement projects in the neighborhood. Recently the students helped build a brick wall for a local mission church. The locals seem to appreciate the help they get from the American boys. 

Boys come to Positive Impact due to failures at school home and everyday life. In the new environment and culture, the boys become dependent again on adult mentors called life coaches. Together they learn and practice skills that will help them have a positive impact in life. 

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