By Sterling Davies | Special To The OBSERVER
The path to adulthood can be challenging, with temptations such as drugs, incarceration, alcohol abuse and isolation.
With that in mind, some local groups and adults help fill that gap and provide a community to help the next generation to feel protected and supported in times of uncertainty.
Mr. Tim’s Youth Healing Circle does just that. The circle, created in 2012 and led by nonprofit founder Timothy Poole, a counselor who treats those with substance abuse issues, hosts weekly sessions that attract a variety of children and adults that help create a positive community to guide youth into the future.
The circle is part of Poole’s nonprofit, Hooked on Fishing Not on Violence. Along with hosting multiple events similar to the youth healing circle, the organization teaches kids patience and helps mentor them through the sport of fishing. To increase program accessibility, the nonprofit and the circle are free to join for all.
Each meeting focuses on providing children around the ages of 10-16 with the necessary knowledge as their lives begin to unfold ahead of them. Poole and the other adults share lessons and experiences with the youth for them to use as they mature.
“There’s a lot of wisdom that can be passed down from the older generations to the youngsters that can help build their inner self,” Poole said of the circle’s purpose.
As different topics and current events surface throughout the session, the children and adults are prompted to express their thoughts and ideas to contribute to the discussion. The kids learn through many of the adults offering advice that stems from their own experiences.
The supportive community that fosters in the meetings leads to many adults opening up about personal and sometimes touching stories, such as histories of drug abuse or incarceration. While these stories can be challenging to share, many still choose to speak about them to help the kids learn from them for their futures.
“The adults are here for [the kids],” Daniel Chastang, an employee for the Anti Recidivism Coalition, said about why he and others share personal events. “That way [they] don’t have to touch the guns, the drugs, the fentanyl.”
Opening up about these experiences adds to the palpable camaraderie for many of the kids, who are attracted to the circle for years on end, even as they become adults. While some are new to the circle, many have been part of it since it began more than a decade ago. The children continue participating because of the growth they have noticed in themselves and the guidance received from the adults.
“I have been coming to these meetings for basically my entire life,” Dante Jacobs, 15, told The OBSERVER. “I get a chance to learn from others’ mistakes so I know better when I get there.”
Others enjoy the mentor-like feel that the circle provides to the youth to help mold their futures. “The older generation can help guide us through our lives,” said Kyon Collins, 14.
Many see the circle as a way to express raw thoughts with a community that is free of judgment. Poole wants to provide support and guidance that can help children who are stepping into adulthood lead fulfilling lives with a support system that cares for them.
“We can’t shoot brothers down,” Poole said. “We have to build brothers up.”