“Moving across the country, making a whole new set of friends, going back to high school, and adapting to a new family and new life all ‘increased my comfort zone’ very much. I think the changes in themselves made me a stronger, more adaptable person and I am much more able to deal with change. Also, the program gave me the chance to really act my own age and experience the high school life that I never would have experienced had I not ended up here. I made friends that I would not have befriended in my old lifestyle. Basically, I opened my mind and found real friends.

Living here for the past almost 11 months has made me a much stronger person physically, mentally, emotionally, and morally. I have changed so much it’s hard to think of how I was before I came to Elk Mountain. I have worked on the many aspects of making myself healthier and stronger and, therefore, happier. I have had the chance to really think about who I am and what I believe in. Right now I have a strong grip on myself and know myself more than ever before. I feel comfortable with who I am and I don’t feel the need to prove anything to anyone anymore, whereas I used to think that I had to use drugs, friends, relationships, etc., to gain respect for myself. I’m happy with myself and I know now that I deserve more than I used to expect for myself. Now that I have realized this, I think that I can handle relationships, friends, family and life in general much better.

I’m not afraid to stand up for myself. In fact, these days it’s hard for me not to stand up for myself. Now that I’m happy with myself and my life, I have a lot more fun. I try things that I wouldn’t have tried before, and I want to really live my life now, really experience life to its fullest. I’m ready to go out and try everything I’ve always wanted to try!

I have learned so much this year about so many things. Mary Thielbahr, my mentor, has taught me so much about relationships, friendships, family, life and men. I just hope I remember it all when I need it!

This year has been a really good experience and I have grown from it. Even though it wasn’t all fun and games. I’m glad it happened.”