November, 21 2017

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Retreat for Troubled Teens Planned in Kansas

Whenever Kim Snapp becomes frustrated in her efforts to create a rural retreat to work with troubled teens and their families, she thinks of Megan Meier and Robert Hawkins.

Meier was 13 when she hanged herself in her suburban St. Louis home in October 2006 after she received disparaging messages through the social networking site MySpace.

Hawkins, 19, killed eight people and then himself in a shooting rampage at an Omaha mall on Dec. 5.

Snapp and counselor Karla Charboneau are working together to create a retreat center tentatively called Abba's House of Hope, a place where troubled teens can stay for six to 18 months while working through their struggles. She believes such a program will help cut down on teen crime.

"Our teens are so jacked up," Snapp said. "We've got to get to them before they're killing themselves and killing each other."

The retreat will be affiliated with the national House of Hope network, a Christian residential program for troubled teens. The Wichita branch has received a $25,000 grant from the national office for staff development. Snapp is looking for property, working on grants and recruiting financial support.

The program would work with teens facing any number of issues, with the only clear exception being pregnancy, Snapp said.

Nationally, the House of Hope chooses not to work with pregnant teens because the physical needs of pregnant teens, as well as future plans and goals can be very different than those of non-pregnant teens.

" We choose to do what we do well rather than to diversify to meet the needs of pregnant teens as well," Snapp said.

"I really want this to cross socio-economic and racial boundaries and be available to anyone in the city," she said.

Ideally, she would like to find 20 acres not far from Wichita -- a rural setting where participants can feel separated from their home environments, yet close enough that it's convenient for parents to come for sessions, Snapp said.

"This has the gestation of an elephant," Snapp said of her vision. "It's taking a while, but it's going to be really big when it's born."

Snapp worked as a doctor for more than 15 years at World Impact Village's Good Samaritan Clinic at 3701 E. 13th St. before she felt it was time to find a new challenge.

She found it when she went to a Women of Faith conference a few years ago.

"I heard a teen speak for three minutes about how the House of Hope turned her life around and I sensed, 'this is what you're supposed to do next,'" Snapp said.

She spent three years learning about the program, traveling to conferences and laying groundwork.

She took a part-time job at the Mid-Kansas Center for Wound Healing at Wesley Medical Center.

"That pays the bills," she said. "This is my passion.... It's a total leap of faith." Charboneau, a certified Christian counselor, said that element appealed to her as well.

"We're going to try and bring healing to the whole family, instead of just 'managing' the child," Charboneau said. "It's kind of like the difference between plucking the dandelion and getting the roots."

Snapp wants to rely on grants and donations to finance the nonprofit organization.

The children could be referred any number of ways, including by families, court services, foster care or the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

Although Abba's House of Hope doesn't have a place to call its own yet, Charboneau has already begun to accept clients for outpatient counseling.

One Wichita couple says they would have loved it if the agency were up and running already so they could have sent their 14-year-old son there instead of a center in southern Missouri.

He had spent time in numerous foster homes by the time they adopted him at age 2 . Simmering anger mushroomed in his teens and got to the point where "he was unparentable," said his mother, who asked that their names not be used for fear her son would be ridiculed once he returns to Wichita.

"He was punching cabinets, breaking doors," she said. "He's a big kid, too, so his anger outbursts could potentially hurt someone."

The Missouri program -- and Abba's House of Hope -- appealed to the boy's parents because they use a Christian perspective.

"That is essential for changing the heart," the mother said. "It's not just a change of behavior."

Related Articles:
Residential Treatment Center for Troubled Teens Denied in Idaho 8/17/07
Alabama Gov Proud of New Services for Troubled Youth 1/11/08
TX, Lone Star Expeditions 1st to Integrate Ropes Course for Troubled Teens 1/14/08
Center for Troubled Teens to Open in Pennsylvania 1/12/08
Maryland Troubled Teens Tracked by GPS 1/12/08
New York Closes 6 Centers for Troubled Youth 1/12/08
Jamaica Considers Using Boot Camps to Help Troubled Teens 1/12/08
Montana Wrestler Sentenced to Juvenile Boot Camp 1/11/08
Missouri Boys Ranch Seeking Mentors for Troubled Teens
Art Therapy Helping Troubled Teens in New York 1/9/08


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