Tag Archive: teens

  1. World Teen Mental Wellness Day

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    Teen Wellness

    The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that one in five teenagers has a mental health condition, creating a challenge for teens to deal with mental health issues. March 2 is World Teen Mental Wellness Day, putting the spotlight on the problems affecting teenagers and their families struggling to offer help and understand their loved ones’ challenges.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that half of all mental health issues start by the time a child reaches the age of 14. Sadly most cases are neither diagnosed nor treated by that time.

    Depression is prevalent among the younger population. According to the WHO, depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability. Adolescence makes for trying times even under the best circumstances and home environments. People at a young age do not have much life experience or understanding of their problems. This often makes it difficult for a young person to find the words, or the bravery, to tell a parent something is wrong.

    Ignoring Mental Health Concerns Only Compounds the Problem

    When a person is concerned about their mental health, seeing a licensed counselor or physician is essential for obtaining a correct diagnosis. Self-diagnosing is not an effective way to treat potential problems. Ignoring a problem in hopes that it will “go away” on its own is tempting to many young people and worried parents. However, ignoring a mental health concern only exacerbates the situation. While facing the unknown can be frightening, seeing a helpful professional will put a person on the path to managing their condition and regaining a feeling of control over their lives.

    Types of Mental Health Conditions

    A wide variety of mental health conditions can arise in a person’s life, some more well known than others. Researching mental health conditions can be a great way to reduce stigma and notice potential signs of emerging issues. Common mental health disorders include:

    • Depression
    • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
    • Panic Attacks
    • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
    • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
    • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
    • Social Anxiety Disorder
    • Specific Phobias (like agoraphobia and claustrophobia)
    • Eating disorders (like bulimia and anorexia nervosa)
    • Bipolar disorder
    • Self-harm (like cutting or suicide attempts)
    • Schizophrenia

    Each issue proves unique in treatment needs, as well as “presentation” (i.e., how the diagnosis “looks”) within each individual. Which therapeutic approach or prescription medication works for one person might not work for another. It is vital to seek individualized treatment and follow the plan created specifically for that person.

    Looking for Help for Your Teenager

    Many sources are available to treat an adolescent or young adult with mental health issues. Make an appointment with their primary care physician or ask them to recommend a licensed mental health counselor. Although the pandemic has altered things in society, it opened up the door for many medical and psychiatric appointments to occur via telehealth (i.e., over the phone, on a computer program, or an app). Fear of going out in public or distance from a provider does not mean help is not available. 

    Group therapy, either in-person or online, gives a young person a place to feel comfortable discussing what is happening in their lives. Peer support can be quite powerful, allowing for self-expression while giving and receiving support from like-minded individuals. High schools and colleges have counselors armed with information about dealing with mental health diagnoses and can be valuable sources of information. If the patient has several sources of help, such as a physician, a talk-therapist, and a psychiatrist prescribing medication, communication among each source to form a “treatment team” can help tremendously. This way, everyone knows what is happening, and they can communicate to coordinate plans that complement one another. 

    Living a Full Life With a Mental Illness

    With the advancements in treatment for various mental health conditions, living with one or more mental health concerns does not mean a young person will be doomed to a less than meaningful life. When they follow treatment plans, assess their feelings and actions, and adjust plans as needed, a life full of rich relationships, family, college, and a career do not have to be pipe dreams available only to those without mental health issues. 

    A licensed counselor can help an adolescent understand how to navigate the world leading to adulthood and a bright future. Even if some plans are streamlined to incorporate any limitations brought on by mental health symptoms, they can still be excited about their lives and their direction.

    World Teen Mental Wellness Day is March 2, shining a spotlight on mental health issues that affect millions of young people. Finding out a young person you love has a mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD, OCD, and others, can be frightening. However, it does not mean there is no hope for a happy life while managing their conditions. Sustain Recovery provides several program options to diagnose and treat mental illnesses in adolescents and young adults. Our experienced clinicians guide young people through sorting out what works best for them, arming them with the ability to return home equipped to deal with their mental health diagnoses. We help families understand how to assist them, providing a bridge for reuniting loved ones in a healthier family unit. Call our beautiful Southern California facilities to find out how we can help treat your loved one and give them a game plan for a happier, healthier life! (949) 407-9052

  2. Their Life Is Just Getting Started

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    Their Life Is Just Getting StartedAdolescents who are in the early stages of recovery from substance abuse often have a hard time envisioning a future without substances. Up until this point, most of their social life has probably come from engaging in substance use. They might fear that they will never be able to fit in or have fun if they can no longer use substances. As a professional, you can help your adolescent client unravel how substances are intertwined with their idea of living a happy and enjoyable life. With a little help, the adolescent can finally understand and accept that their life is just getting started!

    Helping Your Adolescent Client Overcome Cognitive Distortions

    Everyone can benefit from understanding how their thoughts impact their behaviors. Far too often, people slip into thought patterns that are negative and unhealthy. They may not realize the impact these patterns have on their daily life because they are so used to this way of coping. It often takes someone to point out the thought pattern for the person to realize what they have been thinking all along. Adolescents are no different. Cognitive distortions can lead them down a path that drives them to believe that substance abuse is a viable coping skill. Below are a few cognitive distortions that adolescents with addictions often have.

    Many adolescents engaging in substance abuse fall victim to “all or nothing” thinking. They see things in black or white, and cannot discern different shades of gray. Although success and failure exist on a spectrum, adolescents tend to think of things as either success or failure — not a combination of both. If the adolescent is attempting to get sober, all or nothing thinking can be dangerous if they relapse. One drink might lead to many more, simply because they think the mistake they made means they have failed. They may have trouble acknowledging the mistake and moving past it. By helping your adolescent client understand that they can learn from a mistake without allowing it to become a full-blown relapse, you are showing them that there is gray to be seen in every situation.

    Another common cognitive distortion that adolescents use is mental filtering. If an adolescent equates having a good time with using substances, they will focus completely on the good times they had while under the influence. By focusing only on these times, they are ignoring the times when they had fun without substances — almost like they never happened. If something comes up that contradicts their belief that substances equate to fun, they will filter it out. By helping your adolescent client remove their mental filter and see the experiences they have been avoiding, they should come to understand that substances aren’t what makes an experience fun. There surely will be times when no substances were involved that they still enjoyed themselves. Illuminating those moments is important.

    Helping Your Adolescent Client Work on Their Thinking Patterns

    To encourage your client to work on their thinking patterns and learn how they can refrain from falling back on cognitive distortions, it’s important that they try to see things on a continuous spectrum rather than just black or white. If they think they cannot have fun without substances so they will never get sober, you can help them understand that there is fun to be had without substances. Helping them understand the middle ground and see things in a more balanced way teaches them to use logic instead of feelings to drive their actions.

    A great tool to help with this process is a thought journal. Adolescents often take their thoughts as absolute truth without pushing back and examining if they are rooted in fact. Just because the adolescent is thinking something doesn’t mean it is true. When your adolescent client has a distressing thought, encourage them to write it down and explain the associated feeling. Next, instruct them to apply a rationality filter to the thought. Is there truth behind what they are thinking, or is it a cognitive distortion instead? If the thought is negative, help them learn how to reframe it. By getting into a good routine with a thought journal, your client will become more aware of their self-talk and learn how to see the connection between their thoughts and their substance abuse.

    Over time, your adolescent client should begin to see the upside to their life experiences without taking substances into account. They will learn to find joy in good company, rather than the opportunity to drink alcohol or use drugs. They will develop healthy hobbies and be able to apply the recovery skills they have learned into their daily life. Developing a healthy and strong mindset that helps them understand their life doesn’t have to revolve around substance use is key. With your help, your adolescent client can come to understand and truly believe that their life is only just getting started.

    Sustain Recovery is here to help adolescents who are engaging in substance abuse by providing a positive and loving environment where they can address their addiction and mental health needs. We offer a wide range of programs to benefit your adolescent clients and show them how good their life can be. Working together, we can help your adolescent clients envision and embrace their sober future. When you sustain your recovery, you sustain your life.

    To learn more, call Sustain Recovery today at (949) 407-9052.

  3. Is My Teen Playing Too Many Video Games?

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    video games teens couch addiction

    Teens who have challenges limiting video game or screen time may struggle with impulse control disorders such as compulsive gambling, sex or shopping. Researchers spend time looking into what scientifically defines problematic gaming and came up with some general criteria to follow. Learn the signs of addiction and how to identify them in a teen.

    Impulse Control Disorder?

    When teens become addicted to gaming, it can be problematic but what if a teen is just playing a lot of video games? Is that the same as addiction? The three main symptoms of video game problems according to researchers begin with the following:

    • Cravings, urges or growing tension before video gaming
    • Relief or pleasure following the gaming experience
    • Repeated gaming in spite of negative consequences

    Not the Parents Problem

    Video game addiction and problematic gaming are not defined by family issues or concerns with gaming. The relationship between teens and parents can often skew objective reasoning when it comes to addiction to gaming. Diagnostic criteria as outlined by professionals is generally the best way to determine if a problem with gaming does, indeed, exist.

    Too Much Play

    Effects from too much video-gaming vary person to person and may be positive or negative. In spite of mixed views and opinions, researchers have found little to no evidence of recreational play having a role in promoting negative consequences in a teen’s life. However, what a normal amount of play amounts to may vary teen to teen. How does one know when it crosses the line? The following are some basic guidelines experts agree on:

    • Teens (boys, especially) who play more than 3 hours of video games per day may be more likely to smoke, use drugs or fight
    • Pathological gaming has a median threshold of around 31-38 hours per week

    Every teen is different but some of the information presented can be used to help compare a teen to the average norm.


    When trying to limit one’s own or a teen’s video game play time, it can be helpful to compare gaming addiction levels except that excessive gaming is subjective. Setting an internal standard of acceptability can be helpful when determining what and how much is too much. Quality of life issues may play a factor such as social, emotional or physical time spent in other activities. When a person starts to exhibit signs of video game addiction, an individual may consider real and immediate help to combat the negative consequences.


    Sustain Recovery provides a safe, structured environment for adolescents to learn about living substance free. To learn more about the elements of transitioning to sober living, contact us about our programs and how it can help you.

  4. The Healing Power of Reading

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    study read learn girl woman

    Reading is a powerful tool as books hold the capacity to develop literacy but also think differently about the world in which a person resides. Reading can truly change lives and have healing powers that are helpful for individuals in addiction recovery.


    Words were invented to help make sense of the world and communicate needs, wants and desires to others. When people read, it is possible to be transported and transformed. Words on the page come alive with meaning and become ingrained in the memory. Spiritual experiences happen when reading as passages can inspire people to make life changing decisions or radically alter the course of one’s life. Reading is now being evaluated as a treatment method for various mental health conditions and in addiction treatment settings.


    The process of bibliotherapy is that of combining reading with cognitive therapy. This means using selected books to guide a person in the area he or she seeks help in. It is like having a dialogue with a book, using concepts as food for thought and trying to slowly apply it in life. What is read in books stays with people for a long time. In that time, neuroscience shows the brains are rewired each day visualizing and thinking through how the words make a person feel. Memory recall can release chemicals such as dopamine, the pleasure transmitter which plays a role in addiction.

    Shelf Help vs Self Help

    There is a distinction that has to be made between bibliotherapy and self help. Whole bookcases in bookstores are filled with self-help guides. Fiction takes people out of places and the self but

    An individual may be inclined to identify with characters and experiences while committing to the journey of a character in books which mirror the commitment made to the self on the journey of recovery.

    Getting Started

    Reading for recovery is nothing new. Twelve step programs have used The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous since first publication. The Big Book is full of personal experiences, letters and stories. Since release, the Big Book engaged millions of people worldwide in pages which offer insight to alcoholism and a solution for recovery. Faith based recovery programs use biblical texts or religious texts and help guide people with spiritual experiences through the healing power of words. Whichever form of reading is used, it is bound to be a great experience for the reader and build on insights gained through therapy and in community with others on the same journey.


    Sustain Recovery helps adolescents who are recovering from addiction. Minimum stays are 90 days but many may be with the program six months or longer. Call us to find out if our programs are a good fit for your adolescent.

  5. Why Sunlight is Necessary for Young People

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    teen girl sunlight vitamin d

    Sun is shining and the kids are hopefully going outside. Summer can be a fun, busy time for kids to catch up on things that get put on the back burner during the school year. Days are longer with more sunshine and possibilities. It holds more positive aspects than many people understand. Learn about the benefits of sunshine for young people.

    Power of the Sun

    Our bodies are essentially dependent on the sun to function. Regular vitamin D production is essential to human growth and development, brain chemistry and circadian rhythms (sleep cycles). Today’s kids spend less time outdoors than ever before with the advent of technology such as television, tablets and computer games. Meals and leisure time are generally spent indoors with the average 8-18 year old spending approximately 7 hours per day in front of some type of screen.

    Vitamin D

    Nearly 90% of the body’s vitamin D is produced when sunlight hits the skin. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in the body as it helps metabolize and absorb calcium and other minerals. It influences proteins which trigger gene expression. Cell growth is modulated along with neuromuscular function, immune function and reduction of inflammation. Kids need vitamin D to develop properly. Significant deficiencies prenatally during the first few months of life can lead to rickets, a disease characterized by soft, weak bones and poor motor development. The brain structure and function can be altered and impaired without sufficient vitamin D.

    Circadian Rhythm

    Sunlight is necessary to regulate circadian rhythms or the internal clock which determines a sleep and wake cycle. Being active and awake at night increased chances of being eaten or falling off a cliff in prehistoric times. Modern amenities have led to a decreased risk of harm at night but can also lead to a significant  disruption of circadian rhythms. Children are recommended to get approximately 9-13 hours per night of sleep. Sleep is a time when hormones and macronutrients go to work and develop bones, muscles and organs. The brain consolidates memories, processes emotions and produces important neurotransmitters in preparation for the day to come. Decreased sleep can affect attention, memory, academic performance and decision making.

    Get Outside

    When kids are outdoors, being sedentary is less of an option. Kids can move, walk, play basketball or go climbing. If kids are not active and using the environment for play, it can affect development. Playing can increase sensory integration and playing in dirt even improves the immune system. Going outside to read or eat snacks can be advantageous.

    Sustain Recovery provides a unique approach to adolescent care. Minimum stays are 90 days but many may stay with Sustain for 6 months or longer depending on the tailored program provided for the individual’s needs. Learn a

  6. Identifying a Good Aftercare Program for Teens

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    group teens home aftercare rehab

    Addiction is chronic and requires constant vigilance. Recovery from addiction is a long-term commitment to sobriety to avoid relapse. Aftercare is a necessary part of treatment that lasts much longer than initial rehab. Aftercare can be essential to securing an individual’s commitment to recovery.


    Aftercare options vary and may take research but residential rehabs offer aftercare services to help individuals with addiction. Many aftercare programs follow a format relying on group sessions focused on relapse prevention, job skills and relationship skills. Improving relational skills is important to help an individual repair relationships damaged through addiction. Supportive family can be important to facilitating better recovery odds of staying clean. Programs which address partial recovery needs (child care, housing, job support) tend to be more effective than those that do not.


    Drop-out rates hover around 50% but some factors may increase retention in aftercare programs which include staff offering transportation services as well as ongoing support throughout the program. Finding a high quality program is essential to increasing positive participation in the program and make sure retention remains high.

    Quality Programs

    When doing homework on programs, it is important to focus on accredited programs that offer adherence to a certain standard of quality which many aftercare programs either lack or disregard. Reputable bodies including the Joint Commission and Council on Accreditation and Commission of Rehabilitation Facilities support quality programs. Other factors to inquire about are the frequency of staff turnover, number of licensed professionals on staff and what professional certifications exist.

    Types of Programs

    Two types of structured aftercare programs including outpatient patient programs and sober living or halfway houses. Both allow for continued recovery work following completion of a residential or inpatient detox and treatment.

    Outpatient programs

    Outpatient programs typically take place in a clinic or office location where daily therapeutic and educational groups are held. When leaving inpatient treatment, the recommendation is to attend five days a week and step down two or three days a week as individuals progress. Living at home while attending is common and many go back to school or even work.

    Sober Living

    Halfway houses and sober living houses are more structured living settings which provide a safe and drug-free environment to transition into. Certain homes are for those who are court-mandated to live there and if the individual was released from prison can help transition into daily life.


    Sustain Recovery provides a unique approach to adolescent care. Focused on individual needs and resident progress, Sustain believes in supporting young people with focused, intentional care to help them recover fully from addiction. Call us to find out more information.

  7. What are the Effects of Eating Disorders on Adolescent Males

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    male athlete strong exercise

    More attention is being paid to eating disorders in boys and young men than previously done. The pressures placed on young girls are now being similarly placed on young men through pop culture. The problem far extends beyond just a certain demographic as many young men are struggling with eating disorders. Learn more about the effects of eating disorders on adolescent males.


    The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders estimates 10 to 15 percent of people with anorexia or bulimia are male but this may be a low figure. A more true figure may hover closer to 30 percent. It is a hidden sub-population which is a serious national health crisis. Even more, boys and men are risking their lives as eating disorders having the highest death rate of any psychological illness. Many in the medical profession still see anorexia as a girl’s disease making it difficult to break the barrier.


    Billboards, trailers and more focus on the perfect abs, glutes and body type that is not ideal for most men or young boys. Many boys start out wanting to achieve perfection and spiral into eating disorders. The hyper-idealized male physique can be underscored when movies come out that demonstrate how an actor spent seven or eight hours a day pushing the body and building up muscle to look good in a certain role. For an individual with anorexia, it is difficult to achieve this goal and it leaves the individual feeling like a failure.

    Weight Issues

    One of the main problems with eating disorders in young men isn’t always based on food consumption it is focused on over exercising to the point of extreme weight loss. It can cause fingernails to turn brittle, sunken eyes and cheeks to appear and baggy clothes are worn to conceal the weight loss. When a man reaches zero body fat, the body cannot stay warm and it becomes a health risk. More notably, personality changes erupt and it becomes difficult to navigate around an individual who is having mood swings.

    Healing the Inner World

    A teen’s inside voice can be the most lethal when it comes to eating disorders. Vulnerable teens lead internal lives that have voices of a cruel dictator living inside. When an individual tries to say no to the eating disorder, the voice grows louder, begging the individual to try and navigate life with this voice saying it is never enough and the young man feels more compelled than ever to keep forging ahead with the eating disorder in spite of losing health, relationships and other things that matter.

    A big part of recovery is learning to silence or ignore the voice. When an eating disorder is beat, it is possible to live a life that is more free of that voice beckoning a young man to do things that are harmful and focuses more on positive, healthy alternatives for the future.


    Sustain Recovery provides support to adolescents who need residential treatment for addiction. Young adults who need short or long term stays are welcome to come and seek support for the journey to recovery.

  8. Long Term Damage to Teens from Pornography Addiction

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    teens porn addiction

    Pornography addiction affects teens and can inflict long term damage. With the availability of material online being freely available and peer pressure to view it, too many teens fall prey. Learning to be aware of the damage caused by porn to teens can help parents and the community understand what is at stake for young people.

    Porn Exposure

    High-speed internet and online use by teens increasing shows teens having greater than ever access to pornography. Magazines are no longer the only way to view pornographic material, it can be looked at on phones, tablets, computers, billboards, social media and much more at the touch of a button (often for free). Addiction to porn may seem unlikely but it does happen and can happen to any teen anywhere. Teens are vulnerable to addiction and lasting psychological damage due to overexposure as brains are still developing and can be skewed by teen porn addiction.

    Lasting Harm

    Teens with so much exposure have tainted the earliest sexual experiences. Instead of learning about sexuality in real life, it seems teens are gleaning it from the screen and fantasy world presented by porn. It provides young people a distorted idea of what sex, intimacy and love are really like in real-world relationships. Problems can arise as teens become adults from starting it at such a young age. The way in which teens view modern pornography is more damaging than in the past as it is available instantly online. It is more isolating and can lead to obsession and addiction. The intensity of most online porn leads to addiction more readily than old-fashioned print or video materials. Teen girls are also susceptible.

    Addiction Programs

    Addiction programs can provide teens a way to get help and repair damage done by pornographic materials. It may be tough for people with addiction to ask for help but a teen who is hooked on porn can find it embarrassing. Parents must be responsible for monitoring teen’s online activities and speaking up when there may be a problem arising. Getting help is essential early on in the process to provide teens a safe space to grow and learn about sexuality in a healthy way. Giving teens a new lease on life and the opportunity to develop healthy adult relationships is important and essential for positive development of social emotional connections.


    Sustain Recovery provides a unique approach for treatment of addiction in young adults. Gender separate extended care treatment is a hallmark for patients. Call us to find out more on how we can help meet your individual needs.

  9. Teens and the Difference Between Prescription Drug Use vs. Abuse

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    The difference between prescription drug use and abuse is important to understand. Learning statistics is helpful when it comes to understanding teen drug use. Learn some suggestions for parents in understanding why teens are attracted to using drugs in the first place and how to notice symptoms of a potential problem in teens.

    Prescription Drugs and Teens

    Prescription drug use ranks second only to marijuana use by teens. Teens sometimes take prescription medication for illnesses and believe the drugs to not pose much risk or danger since drugs are regulated. When doctors oversee use, teens think the drugs are safe. Studies show drugs are being misused at a higher rate among teens than ever before.

    Dangers of Misuse

    According to studies and statistics, 2013 numbers show 4.6% of teens from 12 to 17 years of age misused prescription drugs. Older teens age 18 to 25 used at a higher rate of 8.8%. During the same year, the likelihood of age groups misusing drugs was higher than older adults over age 26. Emergency room visits on a daily basis in 2013 alone were highest for pain relievers followed by antidepressants and benzodiazepines.

    Attraction of Drugs

    Several factors contribute to teen drug use. Misinformation, misconceptions and risk-taking behaviors all increase the likelihood of teen drug misuse or abuse. Other reasons for abuse include:

    • Physical or psychological enjoyment of drugs
    • Peer pressure
    • Ease of availability
    • Perception of safety
    • Perception of non addictive properties
    • Belief it is not illegal to use without prescription

    Suggestions and Tips for Parents

    Parents and caregivers can help teens with understanding prescription drug use better by doing the following:

    • Make sure teens use all medication properly
    • Learn the use of medication with both risk and benefit
    • Acknowledge escalation of risk when abused
    • Understand responsibility when it comes to safety
    • Learning to ask for help if a problem arises
    • Talking to doctors or parents when a teen thinks side effects are popping up


    If a teen is abusing drugs, it is helpful to become educated about what symptoms may arise and be informed. Knowing how to identify prescription drug use is critical to success for the health of a teen. Symptoms may include:

    • Drop in grades
    • Bloodshot or glazed eyes
    • Changes in appetite
    • Continued fatigue
    • General health issues
    • Hidden or secretive behaviors
    • Mood swings
    • Other unexplained behavioral or emotional challenges

    Knowing and understanding a teen’s behavior can be helpful when watching changes that may indicate prescription drug abuse. Attendance at a therapeutic boarding school or recovery program may help a teen get back on track.


    Sustain Recovery helps teens and young people get their lives on track after addiction. Contact us to find out how we can help your teen get back on their feet and live a healthy life in recovery.

I first met Sayeh in November of 2013 just after my 15 year old daughter had been admitted to a residential treatment program. As part of the program I was required to attend 2-3 AlAnon meetings a week. Sayeh attended the same AlAnon meetings as well as Alumni events as I. It soon became apparent to me that Sayeh had a heart for recovery, program, and God. When I was encouraged to get a sponsor I didn’t hesitate. Dependable, respectful, kind and generous of spirit, she exudes an inner peace that I hope to achieve with her loving guidance, as I work my own program. She is patient, & full of wisdom that she is always happy to share with her sponsees and fellow parents. I am so grateful our journeys brought us together.

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