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Jul 9, 2009

The building that once was the home of Straight Inc/Kids Helping Kids/Pathway Family Center located at 6070 Branch Hill-Guinea Pike is up for sale at the whopping price of $799,000……It is really $788,000 and some odd change but we may as well round it up. Glad to see that the building could possibly now be bought by some other entity that won’t be using it for a torture chamber for local and out of town teens. WEST SHELL…WE SELL!

Who wants to buy it and turn it into a local tavern?

Any takers?

I genuinely hope for most of you this may bring more added comfort.

-Deprogrammed

 

 

Posted by Deprogrammed

All I can add to this is WAY TO GO!!! - hurrikayne

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Posted: Jul 9, 2009 9:15am
Dec 29, 2008

What is the name of the facility you were in?

New Beginnings Girls Academy, it was located in Pace, FL.

What kind of a program did they operate?

It all revolved around one thing and that one thing was God. I didn’t understand how they could get away with brainwashing girls and shoving religion down people’s throats. It made no sense to me. The program, when I was there, was unfair & misleading. I'm sure, without a doubt, it has not changed. I looked up their website and saw pictures of the girls. Some girls I remembered from when I was there. I know they’re unhappy. It's like being locked in a cage and having nowhere to run.

When were you there & how long did you stay?

I was there for 10 months in 2006. It was the longest & hardest 10 months of my life.

Whose idea was it for you to go to this facility?

My grandfather’s, he was "friends" with Brother McNamara. He said he was a good Christian man. Obviously my grandfather didn’t do his research. I came to my grandpa for advice because my mother had found out I had gotten on drugs. When I talked to my grandpa he automatically got up and went into the living room and grabbed his phone. The next day they asked me if I wanted to visit a place where I could get help. I said "I'll go check it out, but I'm not making any promises."

Were you included in the decision?

Not at all, when we arrived to "visit" it was a trap, the papers were already signed. My mother had gone behind my back. Bro. McNamara kept smiling like ‘Hahaha I got you now’, kind of thing. It made me extremely uncomfortable. When I went into the dorms, he made the girls get up and sing. They looked like sad robots. He was the only one in the room with a smile on his face.

When my grandparents took me in the office with Bro McNamara, I remember seeing a wall of pictures of the girls when they first arrived. We all looked like we really needed help but not this kind of help. This was robotic brainwash crap that I was completely against. I was all about freedom and being who you wanted to be, not being forced to be someone you’re not.

How did you get there?

I was driven by my grandparents, who lied to me, and knew from the moment I got into the car with them that I was going to be away for a very long time. Everyone in my whole family knew, besides me.

What happened when you arrived? How did they process you into their program/facility?

Bro. McNamara basically put on a show in front of my grandparents and me. Showing off the girls singing abilities, quoting Bible verses, etcetera. When we got into his office my Grandma kissed my cheek and walked out the door. I had no idea what was going on. I freaked out, I tried to open the door but Bro. McNamara had already slammed it shut and said. "Welcome to New Beginnings."

He called a girl into the room, she was to be my "buddy". They basically are your little babysitters. When walking outside in line, we had to have our heads down & the “buddy’s” had our arms locked so we couldn’t run. I complained to a staff member that one of my “buddies” held my arm too tightly, she simply said, "Get over it".

Can you describe a typical day?

Wake up was around 5:30 a.m., you had to make your bed perfectly or that was 5 demerits. Ten demerits at the end of a week was a weeks worth of discipline. ‘Discipline’ was standing with your hands behind your back, nose on the wall. No looking away from the wall, you couldn’t breathe wrong or you would just get more demerits.

I stayed on ‘discipline’ the whole time was there. I was a good 195 lbs. when I went into the program, I came out weighing 167 lbs. because they made us do painful exercises, instead of them doing the pain to us they made us do it to our selves. After doing morning chores, we had to stay in line and go through what they called dress check and they made sure our hair was pulled back perfectly, or that was a demerit, made sure we had slips under our skirts, etc… We had to remain in line with straight posture holding and reading our Bibles with our heads down at all times.

We went to breakfast then headed to school. Sometimes Bro. McNamara would grab girls to work in the yard for the day, most of the time it was only trusted girls. After school we had lunch, if the Macs were in the mood, they'd give speeches on how stupid we were and how we were such sinners it disgusted them.

After school we went into the dorms had a time where we said scriptures, there was a name for this my memory is just blurry. We'd sit, most of the time we would have to stand if we sounded "lazy". It wouldn’t be over until we said it to their liking.

Then we had showers, dinner, chapel, or we'd sing. I remember one time I didn’t want to sing because I was light headed, being between all the girls, all the body heat, I wasn't allowed to sit, let alone not continue to sing. So, I forced myself and ended up passing out. They STILL made me get up and sing. After that we went back to the dorms and slept. I know I never slept, I couldn’t. It made me sick to my stomach to know that this country allows such things to go on.

Can you describe some typical rules?

Hair had to be pulled into a clip 4 inches from the top of your head. If they didn’t like it, that was like 2 demerits.

The waist of skirts had to be above or right at the belly button, which obviously isn’t comfortable for teens, especially me. It wasn’t because I was a "whore" or a "slut" as Mrs. McNamara called it. It was because to me it was not comfortable.

You were given limited toilet paper.

There was a ‘new girl rule’. I was accused of looking and "communicating" with them constantly by the girls that were "trusted helpers". The staff and the Mac's called me a liar almost every day. It hurt so much, but I knew I had to get out of there and make a difference so I went along with it.

That was until he said something out of line to me one day in the cafeteria and I finally said, “F you”. I was on discipline at the time; I sat down and refused to do anything. If he was going to sit there and humiliate me in front of everyone I just didn’t care anymore. I wanted to die. He had a girl attack me, pulling my hair to get me up. I wasn't going to move. After he called another girls name I grabbed the girl that was pulling my hair and got my hair away from her, they wrestled me to the ground. I kept fighting back. The next thing I know I have one girl digging her knee in my back, 4 girls on my legs; one girl with her arm on my face. I tried with all my strength to move but I couldn’t, I ran out of energy.

After that I was taken into the dorms and had to stay there. Later that night I walked into the shower area and sat in the shower stall turned the water on hot and wished to melt away. They tried to get me out but after an hour of me being in there they just left me alone.

To me, you didn’t get to have an opinion and you weren’t allowed to have a social life. You were made a ROBOT nothing else.

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Posted: Dec 29, 2008 9:17pm
Dec 19, 2008
Were you aware of Mrs. Cameron’s history of trouble with the law in relation to Rebekah, another home she helped run before starting New Beginnings?

From an article by Chris Womack, published in The Observer, “The homes have been the subject of allegations of brutality for decades, and in May 1999 a TACCA-approved Roloff home had its turn. Faye Cameron, supervisor of the Rebekah Home for Girls and the wife of Roloff Homes president and TACCA board member Rev. Wiley Cameron Sr., was convicted of a misdemeanor for unlawfully restraining a child. In fact, Cameron was banned from ever working or being present at any juvenile home in Texas-for duct-taping a girl's wrists together and locking her in a room.”
Link: http://www.isaccorp.org/newbeginnings/n ... ngs.a.html


From The Austin Chronicle, by Emily Pyle (2000): “Texas Protective and Regulatory Services removed Faye Cameron, dorm mother of the home and wife of Wiley Cameron, for abuse and neglect. Wiley Cameron retained both his position at the Roloff homes -- and his membership on the TACCA board, which he did not resign until Simons' mother filed suit against the homes the following year.”
Link: http://www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase ... id%3A79818


I had heard about it, yes. I was there around a year or a year and a half after the incident happened. By that time, Faye Cameron didn't participate in much of our daily activities inside the actual dorm, but she interacted with us almost any time we were around her outside of the dorm, which was often.

More importantly, was your family aware of this?

I'm not sure; I don't think that many parents are aware of it.

There were other incidents as well.

From the Pensacola Independent News, by Duwayne Escobedo (2004): “New Beginnings has been investigated twice (by FACCCA) and insisting that Faye Cameron quit the boarding school for troubled girls after being questioned for hitting a girl with a curtain rod.” Link: http://www.inweekly.net/article.asp?artID=713

Did you witness the incident, or hear about it?

After we left Texas, Mrs. Cameron was rarely around, even though Wiley Cameron was referred to as the president of the ministry. The Camerons lived in another state then, but they dropped in every few months or so. Mrs. Cameron always seemed to maintain a little bit of distance when on the property. While I was there, she never got involved with any of the discipline, which I assume was directly because of her legal trouble in Texas in 1999. One New Beginnings staff member who has worked with the home since it was still part of "Rebekah" in Texas, occasionally recounted times when Mrs. Cameron slapped girls in the face when she still worked inside the actual dorm.
(I witnessed the same behavior by Mrs. Cameron during my time on the Roloff compound.)

Details of the curtain rod incident got really mixed up somehow, which is probably why nothing ever came of the investigations, but I actually know all about it. Mrs. Mac was the primary physical disciplinarian, and "licks" were usually given with a thin, hard, white paddle. Many girls complained of bruises. The time that I got mine, Brother Mac brought in at least eight of my peers and threatened to have them hold me down. None of the girls looked like they wanted to help. Most of us realized that it was just something they did to prevent us from trusting each other.

There were periods of time when they wouldn't administer licks. It seemed like the McNamara’s would back off for a while after a period of time when they were giving licks, and having girls held down by other girls or junior staff if they refused them, just constantly. It was like they'd decide to ease up after realizing they'd gone for a period of time being totally out of control about it.

Once on junior staff, I learned that during staff meetings Brother Mac actually talked about these "phases." He'd say that the home was going to stop using licks as a punishment altogether so that they couldn't get in trouble with the law anymore. The curtain rod incidents happened during times when the McNamara’s said they were going to limit, or completely stop giving licks out; but they continued anyway just because they were particularly angry, or desperately in need of getting things more firmly under their control. Other times, they used one of these rods, which were more specifically the hard plastic rods used to open and close mini-blinds, if they didn't have the usual paddle on hand.

Numerous girls witnessed this happening plenty of times. I remember two incidences in particular. One time, Mrs. Mac gave licks to a girl named Jamie with one of these rods in a building behind one of the churches we sang in on Summer Tour. Several girls were made to hold her face down on the floor while she struggled, and she was repeatedly struck on the buttocks with one of these rods.

The other time, it was a girl named Kara. Brother Mac and another older staff member took Kara into a staff bathroom area. He was shouting terrible things at her while the rest of us listened from outside the door. We watched as he came out for a second, grabbed one of the mini-blind rods from one of the windows and hurried back into the bathroom. None of us could see what happened, but we could hear the girl screaming and begging for them to stop.

When people came to investigate the subject, Brother Mac tried to dictate which girls talked to the investigators. I think all of them were afraid they would get into trouble if they told the investigators anything about what they had really seen or heard. I was never questioned, but I wish I had been, because at that time I would have had the courage to tell truth.

Additional information this young lady shared with me:

• Redshirt/Discipline: Extremely physically strenuous, humiliating punishment that could last for months on end, most of which time the girl spent standing with her nose against a wall. The idea of standing with your nose against a wall doesn't sound very strenuous, but it can be pretty agonizing when you have to do it while remaining in the same position for hours upon hours without a significant break. I was on Redshirt for a month, and we had to wear red gingham shirts to ward off other girls and show that we were being ultimately punished. If other girls communicated with us, they'd be put on Redshirt, too. Girls on Redshirt had to exercise until the last regular girl was done working off her demerits. Afterward, we'd get a six-minute shower and then we had to go back to stand with our noses against the wall until the next activity, which we'd usually remain standing for. For an hour and a half or so, after the other girls went to bed, girls on Redshirt would have to do a series of different exercises which were designed to hurt a lot more than normal exercises. After that, we'd be permitted to sleep. On Redshirt, girls' diets were restricted to half-portions at one time. Later on, this particular form of discipline was modified. They changed the name to "Discipline" at one point, then girls stood with their noses against their bun kbeds instead of walls, got periodic 10-minute sit-down breaks, and some of the rules weren't quite as harsh.

• Behind closed doors Brother Mac used racial slurs. I believe that many girls were discriminated against because of race.
What slurs do you specifically recall him using? Did other staff use similar slurs?
Brother Mac used the "N-word" when referring to black girls when in his living area, around his family, and around a couple of the staff and junior staff members. At one time, some girls of black and Spanish descent were put on "Separation," (forbidden to talk to certain other girls of their race who were on the punishment of Redshirt/Discipline or licks), he said, so they wouldn't make trouble. It wasn't because these girls necessarily showed interest in befriending each other, it was just because of their ethnicity.

• I believe that we were sexually harassed by Brother Mac, too.
How so?
I've said before that he used to come into the dorm and "openly rebuke" us. In other words, he'd come in and single out specific girls and humiliate them to tears. On a couple of occasions, he would come into the dorm and single out specific girls or make more general announcements saying that he could tell that some were masturbating because he could "smell it" on them. I remember him saying that specifically several times. It was awkward and uncomfortable for all of us, needless to say. He'd also fairly frequently discuss our past promiscuous acts in crudely detailed and degrading ways and openly ridicule some girls for claiming to be homosexual before the home.

• Most girls gained serious amounts of weight (despite all the exercise,) which we were sorely ridiculed for, and a good percentage of girls completely stopped menstruating for the duration of their stay.
The menstruation complaint is common for many girls/women affiliated with the homes. Do you recall ever being given any sort of medication? Did you have a normal cycle as a junior staffer?
I don't remember for sure what I was given, but I was told that they were just vitamins. I tried to refuse to take them, but they insisted. I didn't need to be on any pills prior to the home. When I first got there, there were scores of us, who weren't even on any sort of medications previously, who were required to take these "vitamins." Maybe they were vitamins, though, I don't know for sure if the pills that we were given was what caused so many of us to stop menstruating, but it seemed too common to be purely coincidental. We all thought it was weird, we were assured that it was just something that naturally happened when girls are exposed to large groups of other girls. [Something to do with the theory of Menstrual Synchrony.] Some girls had normal cycles, but a good portion of us just entirely stopped. Some of them stopped for several months and some for the entire time they were there. Mine normalized completely as soon as I left the home the first time.
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Posted: Dec 19, 2008 7:34pm
Dec 6, 2008

What is the name of the facility you were in?

Originally, it was called The Rebekah Home for Girls, based out of Corpus Christi, TX. However, due to some changes in state laws in 2001, the home was closed and the same administrators, Bill "Brother Mac" and Jennifer "Mrs. Mac" McNamara, sent half of the ninety girls home and moved the other half of us to Missouri temporarily. They eventually found us a permanent location in Pace, FL, and we moved there.

The name underwent some changes for legal reasons. For a while, it was called New Beginnings Rebekah Academy. Later, they decided to avoid any negative association with the original Roloff homes so they officially named it New Beginnings Girls Academy, which still exists at that location. The McNamara’s have since gone on to operate New Beginnings Ministries in Missouri, which admits both girls and boys.

What kind of a program did they operate?

It was an extremely strict, Christian program, which is probably a lot of the allure for parents. But the reality of it isn't so simple. It's not just loosely Christian, like many parents assume. It's not much of an "academy." It's not like regular boarding schools.

People send their kids there out of desperation, and their kids end up having to deal with circumstances in an environment that they themselves could never cope with. They operate under the guise of being a tough love, Christian place where kids can come to terms with their problems in a caring, safe, secluded educational environment, but if I was only allowed to use one word to describe it, I'd call it "degrading."

We were constantly ridiculed. During my first week there, we were all gathered together for a little sermon or chapel service, and during that Brother Mac jumped up on a pew in front of me and called us a "bunch of faggots." Soon after being sent, girls realize that such situations are not uncommon - there's a lot of screaming and yelling and what was referred to as "open rebuke," which literally meant that we were individually verbally bashed and humiliated in front of everyone there. Brother Mac discussed and criticized a lot of our past errors openly.

They tried to keep us in a pretty constant state of shame. They used a lot of brainwashing tactics. We were constantly monitored, discouraged from befriending each other, poorly educated while there, and physically and mentally abused. With all of these atrocities, they hide behind the whole "tough love" facade, but there isn't any real love at all - only degradation to force good outward behavior. It's extremely traumatizing, to say the least. The cycle continues to this day, because no one really seems to believe "troubled teens" when they do get the courage to say they're being mistreated. People tend to assume they're just lying brats.

When were you there & how long did you stay?

I was there initially from January 2001 to January 2002. I went home for a few short months and then the administrators of the home and my guardians mutually decided that I should be sent back so that I could finish high school and help them out some since they were shorthanded. I know that I wouldn't have gone back had it been up to me, but at the time my family wanted me to go and I was still trying to "do right" by them as I was still pretty convinced that I was a terrible person.

I was only 16; they were sending me, so I thought I might as well go with at least a little dignity still in tact. In May 2002, they put me on a plane back to Florida. My status was technically "junior staff," which over time exposed me to a lot of things the average onlooker doesn't know about. Once I turned 18, I tried leaving a couple of different times, but I didn't have a lot of help or money. I was paid, but only enough to get some bare necessities; nothing even close to minimum wage.

I finally succeeded in leaving when I was 19, that was in 2005. They weren't happy, but the longer I was there, the more I knew that I couldn't be subjected to or associated with the things that were happening there. Everything was just so deceitful. I just wanted to run away and forget about it forever.

Whose idea was it for you to go to this facility?

It was my sister and her pastor's idea. Legal guardianship was awarded to my sister when I was 14. She had become a really strict, really conservative Christian, and it was understandably difficult for her to deal with the fact that I wasn't interested in Christian ideals. It really frustrated her and caused a lot of turmoil at home, because I was interested in school friends, secular music, and I wore black clothes. Prior to sending me to the home, she tried to send me back to my mom who lived in Seattle area, WA, and that was a doomed effort. To make a long story short, there were a lot of problems in her home, and I just didn't want to be there either. A few months later, my mom returned me to my sister who then made the decision to send me to the home.

Were you included in the decision?

Not at all; I had no choice in the matter. I felt that any kind of crazy, punitive efforts regarding me were just stupid, and this seemed like the ultimate punishment. It felt like being dumped off and exiled in a place they couldn't know that much about. I battled with a lot of past-related depression leading up to that. I guess, to an extent, I was pretty typical: I was a smart kid, intensely creative, but really anti-social and misread. It seemed like my sister wanted me to be someone else instead of encouraging the growth of my positive traits. So I fought her the whole way.

How did you get there?

My sister and her husband drove me. When I figured out where we were headed, I lost it; screaming, kicking, cursing, for several hours. The whole time, they kept saying that I had two choices: shackles and duct tape, or muscle relaxers. I learned later on that such methods were pretty common in getting girls to the home. When I finally tired out, one of them handed me pills, and I took them so that I could temporarily forget what was happening. I didn't wake up until Texas.

What happened when you arrived?  How did they process you into their program/facility?

Most girls fight and have to be physically removed from their parents' vehicles, but I was tired and tried to be optimistic even though I had already done a little research on the place myself and read that there were scores of abuse allegations. I tried to believe my sister and her pastor, who said that the administrators were good Christians and those allegations couldn't be true about them.

As is typical procedure, we first met Brother Mac, whom I later learned was a completely different guy around parents and other outsiders. Next, the girls sang a song for us. It's a frequently-used ploy to show the girls as really docile and happy. Then, I met my "Buddy," a girl who follows her assigned new girl around and monitors her every move for her first thirty or so days. Last, they asked me to take a shower so they could finish separating what personal belongings I could keep from what had to be discarded or sent home. When all was said and done, I was left with a trunk of clothes I had never seen before, some toiletries, and a Bible.

Can you describe a typical day?

We woke up very early, made our beds and brushed our teeth, congregated to read the Bible and pray, returned to our areas to do more in-depth chores, and went to the school building to do what passed for school - no real teachers; just an unaccredited home school curriculum. Then, we worked off our acquired demerits, worked on Bible Memorization, had song practice, took showers, had a chapel or church service, had Bible reading and prayer time again, and, finally, went to bed. It was basically the same thing every day. Saturday was a work day.

The schedule differed if you were being disciplined in some way, were on Summer Tour, or were chosen to work outside that day. Some girls, even if they're suffering academically, do labor jobs on the property all day, surely in violation of child labor laws and school attendance requirements.

Can you describe some typical rules?

There were many reasonable rules but many more outlandish rules. The one that seems most harsh to people is that girls aren't allowed to talk at all unless asking Staff or Helpers a brief question, except for about an hour a week on Friday night. They're certainly not taught anything about rational communication. No talking, no humming, no popping knuckles, and your hair can't touch your face. You get six minute showers and five sheets of toilet paper. It's all about control of all aspects.

Offenses mean demerits, and demerits mean pain. Each demerit has to be worked off somehow - through very strenuous, forced exercise, etc... When I first got there, we got "licks" (corporal punishment) after the first 10 demerits acquired that day. Many simple offenses were worth 5 demerits; so you worked off the first 10 physically, and after that you got one lick per demerit, up to five licks. They were usually done by Mrs. Mac, and usually while Brother Mac watched.

When Mrs. Mac got physically tired of giving licks, we'd have to write sentences overnight.  One hundred per demerit, and some girls went some nights without sleep, just to repeat it all over again the next day. Some of the rules may be different now because some of them have been exposed.  Some of them may be less harsh and some of them may be more.  If nobody knows for sure, and no one is really accountable for their actions, and you can't really check for yourself, then they could be doing practically anything they want with your child.


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Posted: Dec 6, 2008 9:21am
Jul 19, 2008

Hurrikayne: What is the name of the facility you were in?
Alex: Boulder Creek Academy, in Idaho.

When were you there & how long did you stay?
I was there from June 22, 2007 to June 21, 2008.

Their website states that “Boulder Creek Academy is a safe refuge for at-risk troubled teens.” Do you feel that you were “at-risk” or “troubled”?

I feel that I was troubled, but not ‘at-risk’, whatever that means (assuming you mean cutting, drugs, sex, etc). I was mildly depressed, and had mood swings because of my medication. Basically, my parents didn't want to wait out me being on new medication.

They also describe typical students as, “Capable but discouraged by academic struggle; Isolated, low self-esteem; Unable to see consequences of actions; Experimented with drugs and alcohol.” Do you feel these generalizations accurately describe how you were at the time you entered the program?

I would say about 1/3 of the student body is as they described. Some of the people there are INCREDIBLY intelligent. One kid was doing college calculus from Stanford before he was 18; another is reading books about string theory.

Most kids there, however, are not isolated. I heard so many stories about crazy shit that happened at their homes and whatnot with their friends. From what I saw, some of those kids had pretty good self-esteem. Most of the students there have done drugs, but not all of them.

The rest are idiotic, immature simpletons. They fail classes (which are not hard to pass), can't see that A+B=C, and are total druggies. Most of the kids who saw the website made jokes about how the kids had 'an IQ of over 90', because some of the kids were so stupid. One of the kids said that all the buildings in Tokyo were made of bamboo, and another believed that Japanese tiger eggs existed.

Whose idea was it for you to go to this facility?
It was my parents' idea.

Why did your parents feel that a therapeutic boarding school would be better than a ‘normal’ boarding school?

I honestly don't know why my parents thought it was better, but I'm guessing it had to do with a lot of one-sided misinformation. They learned about this school from an Education Consultant, Molly Baron, and then my therapist at Second Nature, Jay Huffine, and took a tour at BCA with Shaunale Wilson. My mom really is easy to get bought into all of this crap, and I'm honestly surprised that my dad was sucked into it. Apparently, my dad looked at normal ones too, but he said at the time it seemed like the right thing to do, but now he seems to regret his decision.

Were you included in the decision?
No, I was not included whatsoever. I wanted to go to a normal boarding school, but they sent me to a wilderness.

How did you get there?
I was transported to wilderness, and then to the school

What do you mean by 'transported' and what kind of wilderness were you taken to?

I was woken up at 5 AM at home by two men, who talked to me about a program called Second Nature in Bend, Oregon. I was excited, and thought it was a (normal) boarding school. I was allowed to take a shower and grab my Nintendo DS to use on the trip there. Then I was handed off to two people from Second Nature at the Airport in Richmond, OR. They took me to a doctor to get a physical, then to the headquarters of the place where I had to strip naked and show that I didn't have any 'contraband' on me, (luckily no cavity search), and then got shipped off to the middle of nowhere.

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Posted: Jul 19, 2008 10:39am
Jun 10, 2008
Michelle Lynne Sutton died while enrolled in the Summit Quest Program in Utah, May 09, 1990. Her mother was kind enough to grant me permission to add a link to Michelle's memorial site to my Care2 page.

Please take a few minutes to look & learn about Michelle and her family. No one was charged in Michelle's death, although a settlement was won by Michelle's family in their lawsuit against Summit Quest.

One website lists Summit Quests status as closed, however, another site mentions that the owners moved from one location to another. A search for the program resulted in a hit that tells me, they are still in business. At least two other children have died while enrolled at Summit Quest; although the Department of Public Welfare placed a ban on admissions in 2006, it seems that ban has been lifted.

It is my hope that by bringing Michelle's story to you, you will gain a better understanding of why this issue is so very important.

http://www.michellesuttonmemorial.homestead.com/

Thank you for caring so much!

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Posted: Jun 10, 2008 4:46pm
May 3, 2008

UPDATE:  THIS LOCATION HAS FINALLY CLOSED.  The building is currently for sale!  Way to go Tony & all who protested KHK regularly in an effort to bring awareness to this issue!!!

Where have you protested?

Kids Helping Kids, Milford Ohio

When?

Friday November 30th, 2007

What was your personal reason for this protest?

At age 14, I was falsely imprisoned in Kids Helping Kids (now a Pathway Family Center), where I spent 21 months in the program. This organization abused, tortured and brainwashed me and has caused severe psychological problems that haunt me to this day.

Six months ago I finally got up the courage to look up some old friends from the program. It had been almost 20 years and the overwhelming shame and guilt had kept me from attempting anything that would remind me of the horrible experience. I proceeded to search online and what I found next was terrible. I found a vast array of information about how my family and I had been lied to and that there were numerous programs associated with almost identical methods of brainwashing. I was in shock for almost a month. I knew instantly that I had to do something. The protest is just one of the many things I have done since.

Were you able to educate anyone about the facility and its mode of operation?

I hope so, I am not finished with this campaign; this protest was only one small step on the long road ahead. Eventually people won't be able to look away anymore, but this will take time and patience. I hope I am part of the snowball effect in getting people interested.

Do you have additional comments you would like included?

I am happy with what we are doing and will continue to search for better ways to defeat these deceptive programs. I commend everyone else out there who are fighting alongside in spirit. Intelligent, planned protests are needed, along with letters to anyone in positions of authority, to let them know we are out here and not going away. Any actions that are detrimental to this cause may be made out of good intentions but may indirectly be of benefit to the programs.

My advice: Don't be a detriment by going off half cocked, acting like an idiot and giving the public the appearance that we are a bunch of fanatics. This is a serious issue and should be treated with much forethought. We haven't gained enough ground to afford any setbacks. I will never give up on this and I encourage everyone else to dig in and prepare for a long fight. I think it is important to recognize those who have been fighting for years without support who have managed to hold things together and lay the groundwork that enables us to do what we are doing.
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Posted: May 3, 2008 5:34am
Apr 27, 2008

I have additional questions about your experience in Kids Helping Kids that I’d like you to explain for those who are unfamiliar with the terminology used. In Part III you stated, “Penny Walker would instruct us to act differently than we would normally in front of the reporter and crew. We weren't allowed to ‘motivate’ in front of them, instead we would raise our hands.” Can you tell us what it means to “motivate”?


To Motivate is when program clients are required by staff and program rules to flap their arms up and down in a fast motion in order to get called on to talk or relate to other clients in groups sessions. It also is used to gain the respect and trust of the other group members as well as the staff, as a way to move up in the program. If you do not get ‘motivated’ you will not advance to the next level. If you are on a higher level and do not get ‘motivated’ in this way, you will be stood up in ‘group’ by staff and questioned about not being honest, scrutinized about your thinking and motives not only by the staff, but by the whole group and then set back to a lower phase of the program, and often all the way back to first phase, day one. It is called being "started over".

You have mentioned to me in our many discussions about this topic, that you have arthritis as a result of this practice of ‘motivating’, are there any other lasting physical problems that you are still suffering from?


Yes, I developed arthritis as a young adult in my elbows, as well as my wrists as a direct result of ‘motivating’ when I was a client of Kids Helping Kids. I also have had neck and back problems for years from ‘motivating’ as well; the sheer strain of ‘motivating’ so hard to impress staff and other clients, thrusting my whole body to ‘motivate’ as hard as I could, contributed. The staff at KHK made it like a symbol of status to see who could ‘motivate’ the hardest and the longest and would at times force us to have ‘motivating’ contests.

Very early on in our discussions, you mentioned Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; do you currently suffer any effects as a result of your time in KHK?


Yes, I have suffered from devastating effects as a result from my time in KHK. I have Post traumatic Stress disorder and also Panic disorder. The very organization of their treatment modality is abusive in and of itself in the fact that it causes a child to not self identify anymore (meaning the child loses their self identity within the confines of "the program"). This happened to me because I was put in there right at the stage of development when I was supposed to be finding out who I was and developing my self identity.

The KHK treatment modality does not give the child any room to be ones self because the program requires the child to conform to the programs every whim and abusively strict program rules, even at the foster home, with no relief. The child is threatened to conform by the program in extremely abusive ways, such as being threatened with homelessness, death, insanity, or jail. This particular tactic scared the life out of me, as it did with most others; it is a very harmful tactic because it induces panic and forces one to conform to ideals against their will, under threat to self and personal safety. This type of environment is what causes things like Panic Disorder.

For people unfamiliar with what Panic Disorder is, the symptoms are as follows: Trouble breathing, chest pains - including tightening of the chest, sweating profusely, dizziness, a sense of feeling not in reality, extreme fear, fight or flight response impaired, fear of crowded places, tingling sensations in random body parts. The effects of Panic Disorder, especially before the person has a name for what is happening to him/her, can be extremely frightening, simply devastating them socially. Untreated Panic Disorder can lead to Agoraphobia, which is the fear of leaving ones home because the person afflicted with Panic Disorder starts associating the panic with every place they go, and therefore eventually concludes that it is just best to stay home out of fear. Obviously this type of panic reaction can have devastating effects on ones life such as job loss, social isolation, extreme stress, relationship troubles etc...


Now to address my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I would say it is very similar to Panic Disorder as far as the fear, but it differs in the fact that with PTSD I have awful flashbacks like I am actually re-living the traumas all over again. I’ve had to work very hard to fight those flashbacks and fight to stay in real time since leaving Kids Helping Kids.

Being physically restrained against your will and being forced into lying about your past traumatizes you, especially when you are still a developing child, as I was at the time. Witnessing other children being hurt, restrained, laughed at, ridiculed and scrutinized on a daily basis traumatizes you as well. It further traumatizes you when staff tell you to look forward, away from the incident, and all you can hear is crying and screams for help from behind you, knowing the whole time you can do nothing because you will be the one crying and screaming next if you try to intervene.

Then there is the guilt that I and others associate with not being able to do a thing to help another child. I live with that guilt everyday, even though I know that there was nothing I could have done. I still wish it had never happened to anyone at all. It created a self loathing in me for a long time, and I suspect in others as well.

Suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has permanently altered my perception of certain things to a degree where it has cost me relationships, jobs and friends. Although I am stable now, I still suffer from a lot of trust issues as well as residuals. My symptoms are fewer now than say, ten years ago, but periodically they flare up. I fight them with courage because I am determined not to ever let the program or those demons win.

The program may have stolen two years of my life, and my self identity for a time, but I took back what was, and is mine inherently, through hard psychotherapy work, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy and a lot of support from family members and friends to recover.

Is there anything good that you were able to take away from your experience in Kids Helping Kids?


No, it was the worst experience of my life.

Did your parents struggle financially in order for you to attend KHK?


Yes, at that time the program cost them $20,000 USD. They bought a house 5 minutes from KHK, uprooted our whole lives. They also incurred further expenses by fostering program kids in our home (as required by the program) on things such as food and water, electric, laundry.

How was your relationship with your immediate family affected by your experiences in KHK?

The program lied to me, telling me if I would confess what drugs I had done with my brother, and they interviewed him and if he was honest and said the same, then they would let me see him. I told them, and he was honest with them, and they didn't let me see my brother for a year and a half. It hurt our relationship immensely. We grew apart and we were best friends before that. We didn't even know each other anymore.

The program stressed my relationship between me and my mother to where we did not talk for awhile. I didn't feel comfortable letting her know that she had made a mistake by putting me in there for a long time because I knew in my heart that she did not know what had gone on behind closed doors. I waited to talk with her about it when I had decided the appropriate time, place and action to take with her about it.
My father and I had never had a good relationship and the program only made it worse. My father was an alcoholic and abusive towards my brother and I before the program, and the strain and pressure of the program just made our relationship worse. We still do not talk to this day. In fact we had an abusive altercation since I have been an adult that landed him in jail and a restraining order in my hand.


How do your parents feel about what has happened to you as a direct result of your time in KHK?


My mother, after years of disagreements, hang up phone calls, and lots of talking hashing things out, me explaining what I witnessed along with things that had happened to me in there, started realizing a little bit of what had terrorized me. Through lengthy discussions with her, she further started to understand and see how the place had affected me in a negative way in different areas within my life. She also now knows and understands why and how I was brainwashed and also admits that they had her fooled and brainwashed for awhile, as well. She supports and remains interested with my protest efforts against KHK. She supports me speaking out and educating the public about Kids Helping Kids.

My father, however, the last time we did speak, blamed my mother for that place even though he went along with putting me in there, as well.

Are there any other relationships that have been affected by your experience?

I have chosen to be the loving caring parent to two wonderful children; as I had planned on being when I decided I wanted to be a mom at age 6. I chose to raise my children a bit differently, mainly because there were certain things about how I was raised that needed to change. I do not sweep things under the rug with my children or over shelter them. I also am a big advocate of, and encourage their dreams and right to freedom of artistic expression, as well as their freedom of speech. That has always been my attitude towards life in general, but it has definitely been magnified as a direct result of the process of trying to heal from my time at the program.
I was assaulted by a boss and she had trapped me in her office, blocking the door so I could not leave. I had a flashback of being locked in the time out room at KHK. I froze and could not accurately defend myself in all of the ways that I should have at the time, because I panicked inside and froze up.
It takes years to undo brainwashing, especially if it happens to you in childhood like it did to me. While I was still stepping down and unreeling from the brainwashing I had several romantic relationships, separately but in between the reels. Three of those people were from the same program and I worked parts of "my program” on all three of them, and they worked theirs on me as well. By this I mean playing serious mind games just like in the program, but in a different playing field because we were out of the program and trying to re-adjust to reality. Mind games with romantic partners don't work in the real world if you desire to obtain levels of true intimacy with the one you love.

Adjusting to regular life after surviving the program is a big ordeal, and tends to leave you feeling relieved to be out, but also very lonely and isolated, with a sense of abandonment. For me and many others, recovering from the program and attempting to do damage control after being brainwashed is a full time job every day for a period of many years. Any romantic relationship I had immediately following my time at KHK failed miserably because I still needed so much healing to take place within myself, and so did those I was involved with.

It is a common occurrence amongst Kids Helping Kids and behavior modification school survivors to re-learn how to successfully interact with others again because the abuse of the program steals spirits inside children. The abuses calculated with my recovery and healing process from the program, have definitely affected my relations with people in general and caused me to fight an uphill battle with those issues for the rest of my life little by little every day.
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Posted: Apr 27, 2008 1:22pm
Mar 3, 2008

UPDATE:  THIS LOCATION HAS FINALLY CLOSED.  The building is currently for sale!  Way to go Anonymous & all who protested KHK regularly in an effort to bring awareness to this issue!!!

Additional questions & responses resulting from my inquiries about this former KHK (Pathways) graduates (not pictured) protest of that program:

In your opinion, do you feel that KHK has changed in any other way besides their name?

No, I do not.  I feel that the KHK (Pathway) way has always been to change the name or name(s) of procedures and/or rules call them something different, and then actually keep the activities the same without really changing a thing.  I have noticed this occurrence especially when they are under any kind of public scrutiny.

A good example of this is when I was on my phases as a client and the news crews would come in to “interview” clients, or to do and expose on KHK.  Penny Walker would instruct us to act differently than we would normally in front of the reporter and crew.  We weren’t allowed to ‘motivate’ in front of them, instead we would raise our hands.  We were not allowed to talk with the reporter without a staff member present.  The staff hand picked children that were allowed to speak with the media, not allowing anyone who opposed the program to speak with them, of course, because the program was using this as publicity to get new clients for more business, more business means more money in the way of funding and in clientele increase.


I previously asked about your personal reason for this protest, would you expound beyond what is described in Parts I & II?

Witnessing the program modality from a ‘staff in training’ perspective served to wake me up from the brainwashing I had endured, enough to get myself away from the program.  I witnessed an executive staff-member tell a rape victim client that all “All men were like that, and that they were all the same, and that they would always be that way.”

I did confront that staff-member and told her that is not okay to say that to any abuse victim.  I told her it was unethical.  I was still a bit mentally/emotionally paralyzed from my experiences at the program, though so I quit and just left the program.  I was only a staff-member for my six month follow-up, they had asked me to become junior staff but I declined.

Brainwashing can be an extremely strange experience and recovering from it can be even stranger.  It has taken me years to try and deprogram myself, I feel like I will be trying to fully recover from the experience until I am long gone from this earth.

I witnessed children being restrained pinned down by other clients and staff; staff laughing while restraining a client on the ground and barely able to breathe.  A five point restraint was used frequently as part of the program, they would say “It’s part of the program, when a client gets difficult” I witnessed children, including myself, in time-out rooms filled with semen, urine, and blood for hours at a time for simply not wanting to participate or talk in group therapy sessions.  Most of these things I witnessed when I was a client, some when I was staff.


Were staff members ever reported to proper authorities or parents for abusive behavior?

Not to my knowledge other than by me.


Were any staff members ever reprimanded for abusive behavior?

Not to my knowledge other than by me.


Is there anything you’d be willing to share with potential readers about your experience there?

I was assaulted by another client, while incarcerated at Kids helping Kids.  I reported it to staff after the other client had graduated because I did not feel comfortable while the client was still there, and still had any power over me.  I was terrified.

Under Penny Walker’s direction, the staff members forced me to talk about the incident in front of both the guys’ side and the girls’ side, with the threat that if I did not, I would not graduate the program.  I was ridiculed, not believed by other clients and staff, and made to feel unworthy of having emotions from the assault.  They did not call the proper authorities or file a police report or anything.

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Posted: Mar 3, 2008 9:43pm
Mar 3, 2008
I had an opportunity to ask this particular KHK graduate/former staffer more questions (not pictured), and share the responses; however, I will break these into additional parts.
 

You stated, “I am protesting the cult called KHK…” Why do you believe KHK (Pathways) is a cult?

It has all of the Hallmarks of a cult. The leaders are put up on pedestals by the program, making them models for how they want each client to emulate and aspire to. This is very dangerous because every client who enters the program is an individual. The program is attempting to use a cookie-cutter recipe for all clients. Cookie-cutter recipes do not work for a group of individuals with individual problems. This practice has been disproved many times over the years.

Another hallmark is that Kids Helping Kids (Pathway Family Centers) does not let clients have any normal contact with the outside world. For example: Let’s say “Johnny” client makes a new friend at school on third phase, another client that attends school is expected to report that “Johnny” made a friend outside of the program. This leads to “Johnny” being singled out in a group therapy session by a staff-member (or several at a time) and being confronted by not only the staff-member(s) but also by other clients of the program. This type of interaction usually ends with “Johnny” being punished in some way by staff, for having made said friend outside of the program. On the other hand, if the other client who attended school with “Johnny” did not tell on him, then the same kind of scenario could be in store for that client as well, if found out. This type of system serves as a constant mental restraint technique.


You stated that “KHK uses an abusive Straight Inc. treatment modality…” Can you define this modality in short for those who may not be familiar with it?

Yes, but it is hard keep short. As of 2005/2006 from confirmed sources, they are still using the ‘belt-looping’ method of constant restraint, even under the new owner of Pathway Family Centers; as well as ‘leg-locking’, as confirmed by a currently participating, recent graduate, by the name of Amy. ‘Leg locking’ is a method to stop newcomers (new clients) from leaving the program via the ‘host home’ car. It involves having an old-comer (a client further along in the program) sit side by side with a newer client in the car and put his/her leg over the leg of the newcomer, hooking his/her foot behind the new clients ankle. It is used to keep the new client (or newcomer) from leaving the car at any given time of their free will. Sometimes it involves two old-comers sitting on either side of the newcomer in the same fashion on either side of the newcomer.

KHK (Pathway) also still currently uses the ‘Host Home’ method. (Briefly described in part I) These ‘host homes’ are not only unlicensed but they also are a lock down location for program participants. Lock down means that all program participants staying the night at any given ‘host home’ are required to sleep in the same room, with the bedroom door locked from the outside with an alarm on the door. At the ‘host home’, the clients that are further along in the program are completely in charge of the newer client, which has, and can lead to abuse. A major hallmark indicative of the (former) Straight Inc. treatment modality is the fact that new clients are prohibited from talking with their parents privately, or without being monitored by another STRAIGHT client from a higher phase. KHK (Pathway) continues to utilize this method to this day.

Another example of the (former) STRAIGHT Inc. treatment modality that KHK (Pathway) continues to use is ‘group therapy sessions’. (Also mentioned in part I.) These ‘group therapy sessions’ consist of newer clients sitting in chairs for about 10 ½ hours a day, along with clients that are further along in the program who are expected to control the newcomers throughout the day.

I did appear on film for WCPO Channel 9 incognito to talk about deprogramming and the brainwashing and the cult aspects of the program. That was on November 13th, 2005. I appear as the “Former KHK Graduate”.

http://wcpo.scripps.com/wcpo/localshows/iteam/92a2f60.html

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