“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, then you are a leader.”John Quincy Adams
Throughout the week here at Ironwood, our level 4 residents have been upholding the expectations and really showing what it means to be blue. This past Friday, we celebrated Halloween with Fall Fest, a day devoted to community, activities, and mixing the members of all three campuses. The students got to reconnect, carve pumpkins, and even participate in an obstacle course with their favorite Ironwood horses! This Sunday we did not go on a field trip, but instead had a relaxing day that felt needed after the long day of festivities on Friday. The students this week are preparing for the new season by gearing up and making their last few inventory requests for the proper size snow boots. For the first time this winter, there’s snow on the ground! For Ironwood residents, this means lots of sledding down the Beaver Pond hill, snow-shoeing, shoveling snow, spending time at the sugar shack, and many other winter activities.
Now that the week’s events have been covered, I’d like to encompass what it means to be a level four resident. Some of the many responsibilities and expectations of blues include being a positive role model, having integrity regardless of supervision, being self-directed/demonstrating independence, planning for the next steps in life, and having effective communication styles. For parents, this means that their children will start to finalize home planning by completing a home contract, stopping by for a home visit, and setting up transitional plans (like education). It also means that families can expect their children to be effective communicators and engage authentically in family therapy. This stage of the program is when families can truly acknowledge all of the growth made in their children, and it is a time for celebration! Not only families benefit from level 4 residents, though. Level 4 residents are a big help to the community here at Ironwood. They can help staff with their many responsibilities because of the trust that they’ve earned to be alone for periods of time. This enables them to retrieve things for the group or save the entire group and staff a trip. Also, being able to mentor the Frye students is a huge help to the Frye community. Being a motivator and group facilitator is not only a huge help to the Frye kids, but to the blue residents themselves. Along with this, the independence that comes with being level 4 is very beneficial to the blues. The independence allows the students to learn a great deal about balance (i.e time management) and seeking out support on their own, which is a skill that they will need in the process of returning home.
Despite the privileges that come with being blue, level 4 has some aspects that can sometimes be challenging to manage. Blue chores, for example, sometimes require level 4 residents to stay out later, to wake up earlier, to work independently, and to have a strong work ethic. These challenges come with benefits, though. They teach blue residents to persevere, to be resilient, and they also prepare them for the reality of having a job.
While we can’t necessarily implement a level system in life outside of Ironwood, we can definitely apply “being blue” to our role in our communities. By aspiring to meet the expectations that blue residents are held to, we can truly go far places in life. The benefits would include closer relationships with appropriate and respected boundaries, having a positive influence on people around us, increasing the standards in our living space, and many other positive outcomes. This is because the idea of being level 4 revolves around being a leader, adding value to the community, and having integrity. Application of these traits and skills to real life situations would form more positive, efficient, and effective groups, and strengthen the person who chooses to apply these traits and skills to their life.
Overall, being blue comes with many privileges and responsibilities that have a positive impact on the entire community of Ironwood. I hope that you are able to apply some of these aspects to your own life and community, and find the true “blue” inside of you!
*Wow, speechless. Have a great weekend!