Active Connections delivers adventure therapy programmes to young people in care, combining physically and psychologically demanding activities that challenge participants to confront their negative behaviours and to address their thought processes.
Every year in Ireland around 21,000 young people receive some type of social work support, usually in the form of foster, residential or secure care. With many of these young people in care suffering from mental health or behavioural difficulties, additional services are often provided in an effort to improve outcomes. These services can range from art and drama therapy to traditional psychotherapy, but regardless of the type of intervention provided, they are not always effective. It’s estimated that 31% of young people leaving our care system are still suffering from a mental health problem and 53% are still struggling to cope with behavioural difficulties. All of this means that despite significant state investment, many people are still leaving Ireland’s care system with lifelong issues that are extremely difficult to overcome.
From an early age Raymond was motivated to do something meaningful with his life. Having travelled to the United States in 2000 to take up a leadership role at an adventure based therapy company, Raymond witnessed the profound impact that this therapy can have in helping participants develop the life skills they desperately needed. Determined to bring his learning back to Ireland, Raymond founded Active Connections in 2011, offering young people in care the alternative option of adventure therapy. Adventure therapy involves the combination of physically and psychologically demanding activities, often in a group setting. This type of therapy involves high levels of engagement, challenging participants to confront their negative behaviours and to address their thought processes.
To date Active Connections have delivered their adventure therapy programme to 45 young people, with each participant needing to address a specific issue, ranging from attention deficit disorder to suicidal behaviours. With a 92% success rate amongst this initial group of participants, the organisation has helped the majority of these young people to reach their goals and reduce referring behaviours. As a result, more care placements have been maintained, eliminating the need for long-term, more expensive interventions. With so much promising work done to date, Raymond believes that Active Connections is well positioned to become Ireland’s number 1 adventure therapy provider in 2016.
SEI has helped us expand our reach and change more lives through adventure.