In partial fulfillment of my ongoing public service mission, I wanted to bring a job opportunity to everyone's attention. There is an interesting article in The Washington Examiner today that talks about the DC area Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services wanting to find someone who can teach yoga or tai-chi to children in the program.
I am sure that educating at-risk children in stress management and situational coping strategies is probably a good idea. However, this isn't the only issue in the article that got my attention.
According to the article, the Interim Director got some people suggesting other programs including building a race car, involvement in music programs, and instruction in boxing.
As I read this I couldn't help but think that there were some needs in that program that were obviously not being met.
The article states that "Ward 1 Councilman Jim Graham questioned if turning to yoga was the best approach given the problems the youth face." This makes good political theater, because in a time of fiscal constraint and questions about mandated services it is easy to take pot shots at things that are not well explained. The value of engaging children in normalizing occupations and teaching them appropriate leisure time use is precisely what they need to help avoid recidivism when they get back to the pressures and stresses of their neighborhoods.
How well is the DC Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services meeting the need? Well they have had four Directors in the last year and their system seems to be under a great deal of stress given the severity of behavioral problems that exist in their programs.
I called the Department and spoke to their Human Resources Division. They don't employ occupational therapists, at least not in that job title. There is no Occupational Therapy Department. They have a Recreation Therapy Department, but there are no openings.
This seems like a prime opportunity for someone to go and help them understand a little more about occupational therapy and how it can help with their programs. With such close proximity to AOTA and OT educational programs in the area there are a lot of local resources to leverage.
In full disclosure, I want to state that I don't make these recommendations from an armchair. Locally, we have taken a deep dive into similar programs and transformed the OT services there. We still have some way to go and a lot of opportunity for developing the services further, but it is possible to enter these systems and begin to make a difference.
If any audacious therapist wants a road map to what we did, feel free to contact me. It sounds like this DC program needs some help.