Past students painted a “Wall of Emotion” at Elk Hill. One look and you know: the struggle young people face is enormous. So is the joy they feel with every step of progress. Here are some of those stories.
For Jenna, childhood ended early. The daughter of a single parent with a very low I.Q., at age 5 Jenna was already the closest thing to an adult on the property.But she was still a little girl, a little girl who was defenseless against the sexual abuse that took place in her home, the place where she was supposed to be safe.
"T" was an Elk Hill Varina student who found himself homeless after losing his mother to illness. He was living on the streets without a roof over his head and attending our school during the day. At 18, T needed a plan that could support him for the long term. He found it through our workforce development program, Education for Employment.
What does it look like when a child sits in a classroom for six hours a day unable to read at grade level? It looks a lot like “D.” D was chronically absent. When he did make it to class, he usually slept through it. His academic performance was so bad his teachers assumed he was completely illiterate. When he arrived at Elk Hill Charlottesville, our literacy specialist put that assumption to the test.
After his mother was murdered when he was just seven years old, Luke began to self-destruct. He tried to jump out of bus windows. He ran into moving traffic. There were signs of self-mutilation. He was hospitalized in an acute care unit twice in a matter of days. Then he was referred to Elk Hill.
Derrick Johnson believes "the most important thing is what kids take from us for the future. We want them to learn to sustain themselves for a lifetime." Our workforce development program is key to that vision. With 98% of Derrick's students facing learning disabilities, this hands-on approach also boosts learning outcomes. "It works because they see immediate success when they turn piece of wood into an Adirondack chair."
We asked Elk Hill Campers what they learned this summer. Here’s what they had to say. "I learned how to have friends." "I learned how to read." "I learned to control my anger." "I learned getting my self-control." It doesn't get much better than that!