Jan Brown on the SpiritWorks Program and the Seven Cs

Learn about the emotional power of the seven Cs. Jan Brown explains.

One of the things that we work with with the children during our program we call the seven C's. And so a lot of youth, as they're speaking out, talk a lot about really understanding that they didn't cause this thing. And so we look at--they look at the first C's of "I didn't cause it," "I can't control it," and, "I can't cure it." As a result of that--and it's been interesting because that makes them feel bad if they just stop there because they say, "Then we're just really going to be victims of this disease for the rest of our lives." Many of them kind of enter in that place, and they're really wrestling with this idea that maybe they did cause it or maybe there really was something that they could do about it. In our work with them, we help them with the other four C's, which are that they can take care of themselves by celebrating themselves and communicating their feelings. And so some of them are quite outspoken in their ability to take care of themselves, and they really want other children to know mostly that they're not alone. I think that's one of the biggest feelings that they express in being a part of our program and being a part of Spirit Works, is that they don't have the shame of being alone anymore. I think the other big piece is that addiction is a disease, and they really get it at a level that I didn't get it for most of my life, even as a person in recovery, I didn't get it. They've really, they've helped us a lot. One little boy came in one day, and he said, "If heart disease was in your family, what would you do?" I said, "Well, I would exercise and eat right." He said, "Well, I have addiction in my family, so I'm not going to drink, and I'm not going to smoke." I'm like, "Wow--I mean--who knew?" (laughs) But they got it in a way that was very, very different. We equally have some, some of the youngsters who are very angry, A lot of these kids are very angry because they're losing their childhood. There's a video that we share with them called The Lost Childhood. It has made a dramatic impact in their lives, and it certainly has in mine. It follows kids many years ago who are now adults and talks about the role of children's programs and camps and things like that on their lives. It's still--the message is still pretty clear that you didn't cause this and that you don't have to be alone. This is a way that you can take care of yourselves. It's a very different thing. For the older ones, some of the shame and guilt are there. The younger ones, they're often--young one, when I say young, probably 9, 10 years old-- some of them are kind of angry and beginning to shut down, but they have very strong views. Some of them are like--you know--"Drinking, drugs, and alcohol have destroyed my family." They even get that not only has it destroyed their family, and they realize too that not drinking or not doing drugs is not enough and that they need some skills. They need to learn how to talk about their feelings, and they need to know how to find a safe person when something is happening in their life that is too big for them. It's really neat. They're remarkable children.
Posted on BrainLine August 5, 2009.