New Focus Academy Announces Community Project Initiative
New Focus Academy, a therapeutic residential program and a specialized school for neurodiverse adolescent boys ages 12-18, has started a community project initiative. Socialization is a key aspect of the curriculum and while students practice different social scenarios on campus, it is instrumental for students to experience these situations out in the community. Off-campus socialization experiences provide students with valuable hands-on learning opportunities.
“The students look forward to Fridays,” says Academic Director Joshua De Weerd, “I see their faces light up when they know we’re going to spend part of the day working with animals or giving back to the community.”
The Community Project Initiative seeks to teach students adaptability and resilience. Working with partner organizations in the community, students can safely explore experiences outside of their comfort zones while they give back to their community. It is crucial for their long-term success that students are able to practice these social and emotional skills in public and have the opportunity to give back to the area around them. This hands-on learning experience helps students build confidence and foster meaningful relationships.
New Focus Academy is currently partnered with three distinct community organizations. These partnership activities take place on Friday mornings and include an academic post-assessment component for students to discuss what they learned. In addition to the interactive learning experience, these partnerships also give students an opportunity to explore different career pathways. New Focus Academy is currently partnered with Paws for Life, a local state park, and a senior residential center. These specific organizations support students in building meaningful connections–working with animals, taking care of the environment, and interacting with the elderly. New Focus Academy plans to expand and continue these partnerships in the future.
The community organizations also benefit from the initiative. “We love this program. The boys come and get the residents outside for a stroll in the fresh air, and then they bring a fun craft to do inside. The residents feel special to have such a big group of students coming just for them, and the boys get a chance to serve and care for someone more vulnerable than them. I call that a win-win!”, said Emily Lawrence of Rocky Mountain Care.
Echoing these sentiments, Karyn Fragomeni, Director of Adoptions at Paws for Life said, “The New Focus students brought such great energy to the adoption center! We really enjoy having them here, and we know the animals do as well.”
About New Focus Academy
New Focus Academy is a therapeutic residential treatment program for adolescents ages 12-18 with neurodevelopmental challenges. Located in Heber City, Utah, just outside of Salt Lake City, New Focus Academy prepares struggling teens for a purpose-filled, independent life. New Focus Academy creates an environment of success using a positive reinforcement approach and empowering students to take small steps leading to big changes and overall wellness.