“I know that being at Leake & Watts has really helped me a lot … I know that I’m going places.”

Christian, Biondi Middle & High School

Restoring Optimism

When Christian graduated from Biondi High School, he —  like most teens approaching this exciting milestone — thought of new beginnings and plans for his life after high school. He was accepted at SUNY, where he planned to study new media.

But for Christian, this was a second “new beginning.” He had overcome tremendous challenges to get to this point.

At age 9, Christian started seeing a psychiatrist. He was hospitalized for the first time when he was 10. He spent much of his early adolescence in and out of mental-health treatment facilities and had lived for eight months in a therapeutic foster home. Christian also faced family conflict at home and regularly fought with his mother. As a consequence, he fell behind in school.

Then, he came to the Leake & Watts Residential Treatment Center and Biondi High School.

“I was extremely nervous about coming here to Leake & Watts, and I didn’t want to be away from home,” Christian said. “It took a while to get used to everything. But now, I know that being here has really helped me a lot.”

Christian has developed a positive sense of self-esteem and responsibility that has prepared him to succeed in spite of his challenges.

With the support he received at Biondi High School, he caught up in school — enough to graduate with a Regent’s diploma. And the emotional and therapeutic progress he has made since arriving at the Residential Treatment Center is even more impressive than his academic success. With teachers and mentors focused on helping him work through his emotional and behavioral issues, Christian has learned to cope with his anger and mental-health challenges. He has developed a positive sense of self-esteem and responsibility that has prepared him to succeed.

“Going to college is a great next step,” Christian says. “I am really excited about it. A college degree can take you places, and now I know that I’m going places.”

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