Sunday, April 15, 2018

A stay at New Leaf Academy in Oregon


I wanted to share my experience at NLA since it was a bit different than what I am seeing and I was more recently at New Leaf Academy Oregon. I was at NLA for about a year and a half. The two people who now own NLA are a very kind couple that really care about the emotional growth of the students. They no longer have the clan or stages system that was there before and now they have a system that helps each girl have their own individualized program. Girls can earn privileges depending on how well they are doing with themselves and others, rather thank how long they have been a student there. The usual consequences (LOs) last for 30 minutes. Most of the time the girls must do physical work like simple cleaning, but sometime they will have to do a written assignment. While doing LOs girls may not communicate with one another and can only ask the staff questions that have to do with the LO given to them. The girls may sing while they work, as long as it is not too loud (I found that very helpful and made the time go by much faster). I ended up having about 10 pages of LOs by the time I completed the program, each page had about 20-30 LOs on it. It was very frustrating to receive LOs at times because you could get them for very pathetic reasons like sleeping on top of your comforter, getting out of bed a minute after when we’re supposed to be up, going in your room without permission, and a very popular one was “not following the morning routine” I never did find out what that meant.

Hours of work were the same sort of think except you got them for bigger reasons like not taking out your rabbit enough times and rough housing. Where as grounding lasted for a week, maybe less, and it wasn’t that bad. All that happens while your grounded is you miss watching the TV show and have to do My Time instead, you can’t go to store or ask for privileges in treatment, and you have to do an hour and a half of physical work (i.e. Cleaning) and another half hour of written work on Saturday and another hour of physical work on Sunday while other girls are at store.

I was put on many spot restrictions which were very frustrating. While on most spot restrictions (hot tub deck, downstairs, admin, café, table, etc) I was not allowed to speak to other student. I felt isolated and very depressed. They would put you on spot restrictions for things like self harm, arguing with a staff, and procrastinating on working on assignments. I felt upset because I could hang out with my friends and I was constantly getting in trouble while I was on the table for things like being late to Last Light when I couldn’t even get up from the spot with adult permission. It was especially frustrating when I was on my café restriction because I would stand there raising my hand for about 10-20 minutes wanting to go to bed until another student would finally tell a staff member that I was trying to ask a question. I was unnoticed most of the time and other student pitied me.

Peer restrictions were also a set back. It felt like every time I got close to somebody, the staff would restrict us because they didn’t want me to have any friends. I noticed not only in my relationships, but in others as well that when good friends would get restricted they would turn on one another and star to hate each other. That made it hard because then one girl wouldn’t want to get off of restriction, while the other one would.

Although there were a lot of negatives about the school there were a lot more positives. PE was fun and it really helped student get into shape. School was taught in a simple way while most students were learning atleast one level above the grade they were actually in. The food was usually really good and we got served proper portions, and before Soccer games we got loaded on carbs. We went on many trips including going to Washington DC, visiting the Oregon Coast, quest (a seven day backpacking trip that is super fun), white water rafting, therapeutic retreat, etc. I personally had so much fun on the trips that I did go on and each time I went it was a completely different experience. Cook and Clean-Up was my personal favorite part about being a student there. Cook lasted for 30 minutes and Clean-Up usually lasted around 15-45 minutes depending on what we are and who was on Clean-Up that week. Both were very fun to do. We would sing, dance, and listen to music as well as get the occasional special treats from the cooks. It definitely didn’t feel like labor.

Each students experince is different and I happened to have one that was both good and bad. NLA is definitely not as bad as it used to be. Anyone who went to NLA NC might remember a staff member named Amber Wyatt (I don’t know if I spelled her last name correctly). She now works as the Program Director at NLA OR and she said that things are much better and completely different now. I really enjoyed my experince overall. I hope I was helpful for anyone curious about what NLA is like now.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

RedNettle in a wilderness program and residential asylum

RedNettle is my tumblr name and I am reblogging this to tell you:

I went to programs like this.

Things like this are VERY REAL. While my first program was not as horrible as the original poster’s (I went to Second Nature Wilderness Program, one of the ones she mentioned where you hike around Utah for 3 months) and while my program was not forcefully religious I would like you to understand things like this actually happen.

It happened to me. While I hated my time at my wilderness program at first I later enjoyed it. Like the original poster my problem was a severe bad attitude. I was a liar and a manipulator and even threatened my parents with SS without reasonable cause. But did it really warrant this kind of action?

Please listen.. While my first program was a bit extreme they treated me well and I always felt safe or taken care of. Not all of the wilderness programs are like this.. and after my wilderness I was sent to a “Therapeutic Boarding School.”

It was hell. My therapist was wonderful but the rest of it has left me traumatized. Many people who have worked there (very likely my past therapist as well) will say I am exaggerating but I am not. I came home after a year and a half at Provo Canyon School (in Orem, Utah) with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

You know why? For nearly 2 years of my life (this includes the wilderness program) I was not allowed to touch another human being. You might thing this is such a little thing but it isn’t!!! A human’s development depends on it and I was still a young teenager. We were not even allowed to high-five other girls. Now some say that isn’t a rule there.. That was another problem. The rules were always changing. Different staff would have different rules and in an environment where you are “Guilty until Proven Innocent” you live in constant fear of reprimand. Punishments included “Taking a Chair” where I was sometimes told,

  • “You’re here because your parent don’t want you.”
  • “I don’t care about you. I’m gonna go home tonight and eat my dinner and I wont even think twice about you.”
  • “Look at you. You will never amount to anything.”

The punishment itself was not excessive, but the verbal and mental abuse we were subjected to was horrible.

For a truly big offense (often fighting) we were sent to “observation.” A concrete room with towering walls, a steel door and a tiny window at the very top of the room. Some girls were left in this room for weeks (runaways and girls who refused to admit to doing wrong.) You can not tell me that’s not horrible.

The only physical contact I ever got was on Family visits. Since my family is very affectionate I was incredibly lucky to get this attention. My brother and sister lived an hour away from the school and I was able to get more visits than other girls. Other girls were not so lucky. They went years without ANY physical contact.

On one visit with my brother I got sick and ended up puking. At the school you had to prove you threw up by showing the staff your puke and even then you were subject to scrutiny in case you shoved fingers down your throat to make yourself. So I brought my brother over and showed him after which his wife took my temperature. I had a fever of 101.3 Sadly the visit was over and they brought me back to the school. On check in my brother told them of my ailment and from there they took me inside and brought me back to detention as I had hours to finish. I could barely keep my head up and when I put my head down I was told to take a chair. Even on the chair I could barely keep the required position and eventually put my head against the wall.
Because of that I was sent to observation. The giant concrete isolation room. For “bad behavior.” I was being punished for being ill. The next day my therapist yelled at me for ‘acting poorly after she gave me the privilege of a family visit.’ I was in tears. I told her I was NOT faking. I told her to call my brother as he took my temperature and I was legitimately sick. She said there were no nurse records of a fever and I told her “that’s because nobody took it.” I could have been deathly ill and they still would have left me in that cold concrete room all night. How is that ok?

I can not stress the horror of this enough. I and other girls there were verbally and mentally abused. We lived in constant fear of doing wrong and getting in trouble for it. (Bending your knees when you stood in line was punishable to some staff.)

Why did I develop PTSD when that is something soldiers in war get?

Constant fear.

Verbal/mental/emotional abuse.

Lack of touch.


I lived in ‘survival mode’ for nearly 2 years. Other girls had been there far longer. These practices are inhumane. I survived and have since had to deal with many mental and emotional complications. Am I a better person now? Yes. But that did NOT happen because of neglect and abuse. It happened because I wanted to change as I grew up. They did not have to destroy my worth as a human being to make me better.

These schools are horrible. They need to be shut down.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

A testimony about Storm Ridge Ranch in Utah

A former resident named James Bilardello wrote on Google:

Storm Ridge Ranch is a fraud. It is a warehouse for children. The Larson's are liars who will do anything for a dollar. They make desperate parents take out loans to send their children to this facility. Meanwhile the children become slaves; yes a working ranch, read in between the lines. If your child wants to leave on time they will have to work for freedom. Meanwhile Rick's cattle makes him money. It isn't even slave labor, its worse. The parents pay to have their children become slaves. Then Maryann rubs it in the children faces, to make them have low self esteem, how their parents suffered finically to send them there.

The education is horrible, they give you a book and say read it. No one teaches you. Your child, if not self motivated, will not learn a thing. Rick has broken children's arms for little reason. He is abusive and strict, disobey and your child could have a broken nose or arm. They call it restraining a child. This is just code for torture until they comply. They are an evil family. The whole family works their. Most male staff are married to one of Rick's daughters, only one is actually nice. The lowlife husbands become horrible role models for your children. The other owner Darin, his wife is the teacher. You might think this is good, a family owned residential facility. Think again, they will cover for each other. It is like a Larson cult, but the men kept their last names because they married his daughters. Do not send your child here.

I personally was there twice. Both facilities when it was only male. It will only make your child worse. Trust me. Their are better options, please I beg you do not send your child to Storm Ridge Ranch. They monitor all communication between your child and you, this is because they do not want your child to tell you the truth. They force the children to send home "happy" letters. All phone conversations monitored so your child cant tell you what is really happening. I have personally heard Richard Larson threaten children "If you don't do what I say I will get another 3 months out of your parents, you know I can!!!" he manipulates parents with Maryann. If your child says something true, how they are abusive or mention slave labor, they will tell the parents their child is a manipulator. I was personally there over 10 years ago. I imagine it has only become worse. The man they call "Woods" is no better. I had to add that. He is a know it all, arrogant human being who only cares about his job. The staff that isn't related hates it there, as they are paid minimum wage because they are un educated.

Do not send your child here, this place is a scam. I came out worse then I went in. I was personally never abused, I believe because I was six feet tall and athletic when I was young. They were scared of me. The children who weren't as big as I was, I was a big 16 year old, were the ones abused. They justify their abuse so they could sleep at night but if your child is not a big kid they will be "restrained", aka abused. This place left me psychologically harmed, as I only left worse. I left worse because if you think your child is out of control, their is a child that is worse, your child will become friends with them, your child will gain knowledge on how to be a better criminal. Please I beg you, I know from experience, 9 months then 3 months. Please excuse my spelling I went to high school at Storm Ridge Ranch. I left worse and became a nightmare in my late teens and early 20s because of Storm Ridge Ranch. Save your child.

The facilty is located on two gender separated places in Utah. An investigation in 2014 showed that they billed Medicaid for services they didn't provide


Sunday, January 14, 2018

A testimony about Havenwood Academy in Cedar City, Utah

This testimony was found on Google. All rights goes to the original author

This place ruined my life. It did nothing for my family or I.

They tried to keep me after I was 18, luckily they didn't. I never had any problems there, followed the rules, my program, etc. Management was horrible, poorly run and planned. I gained 15 pounds living there because we ate terrible food and say on our asses all day. We rarely did any activities such as go to the gym or go rock climbing. RARELY. I was there for 8 months and went climbing maybe 4 times. I had to pee in a bathtub a lot because our toilets would clog and we (the girls) would tell staff, program director, and anyone who would listen and it wouldn't be fixed for days. This place will not fix your daughter. You will hurt her, your relationship with her, among other things.

Please for the love of god don't send your child here. Be a better parent. See a counselor. Don't ruin and steal a year of your kids life because you think you know what's best for them. This isn't it. For some it may be, for most it's not.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Film: The Incident(s) at Paradise Bay

The Incident(s) at Paradise Bay is a short-film based on Tranquility Bay in Jamaica which closed down in 2009. The fictional Paradise Bay is supposed to be located in Mexico where basically everything could take place before the authorities regulated the area in 2004 leading to a massive closure of illegal so-called rehab facilities and boarding schools.

The kickstarter page for the short-film writes:
Inspired by true events, this is the story of what really went on at the tough-love reform schools that came to prominence in the 90's.

THE INCIDENT(S) AT PARADISE BAY from Colin Akoon on Vimeo.

Director: Lorne Hiltser, Writer: Nate Crocker

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