Nestled overlooking the Lake of the Ozarks is a residential treatment center that focuses on teen attachment disorder. Because of traumatic circumstances, some teens do not understand what it means to have healthy meaningful relationships. Change Academy Lake of the Ozarks, Calo, aims to help teens realize how to have healthy relationships and transition back into their everyday lives. The program’s goal is to be a place that takes care of students who feel broken and to ultimately help them and their entire families heal.
About 90 percent of the students that find their way to Calo are adopted. According to Co-Founder and Senior Vice-President, Ken Huey, many simply "do not know how to do relationships." That’s when Calo steps in. Students ages 13 through 18 stay for an average of 16 to 20 months.
Through various activities, classes and counseling sessions, the students learn ways to cope with their circumstances and how to create healthy reciprocal relationships. One activity teaches the students what it means to love unconditionally. Students work with golden retrievers and find that taking care of and bonding with an animal is very therapeutic . Bonding with their dog, teaching their dog skills and simply loving on them, teaches the students how to care for someone else. The students are then encouraged to transfer that skill to relationships with others particularly their families.
Calo is expanding their facility adding a building that will house more students and a NBA size gym to include basketball and volleyball courts, classrooms and a canine facility. During the groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, students spoke of the impact that Calo has had on their lives. "They come here to put their lives in order," Huey said.
One student said that he found Calo when he realized that he "needed more help." The opportunities that Calo allowed helped him heal from the pain of his past. "I have been to other programs. They do not have the same opportunities that we have here. I’m very glad I found Calo," he said.
Another student who had a hard time of adjusting to being adopted into an American home said that she found herself living two different lives and having a surface relationship with her adoptive family. "I chose an unhealthy path that led me down a very dangerous road," she said. "I was out of control," she added. More than a year ago, she ran away from home. That was when she finally realized that she needed help. For her, Calo has taught her to "take down the mask and [has] given me the tools I need," she said.
She said is now looking forward to her second chance at life because she knows she will succeed.
The program’s goal is to get the students back into their homes to continue cultivating healthy relationships even after they graduate from the program.
Calo is somewhat hidden at the lake and is virtually unknown to most residents, but that does not discount the work that is being done there. Over 125 people are employed at Calo, which makes them one of the five largest employers in the lake area.
For more information about Calo, visit www.Caloteens.com.