Athletes For Change (AFC), a residential treatment center located in De Soto just south of Dallas, has joined the Creating a Culture of Care initiative as our latest intensive support site. We visited them in January and found out about their programming. Believing that “teens in crisis deserve loving and supporting environments,” they have dedicated themselves to the guidance and care of these young people.
“Athletes for Change was started by former NFL Philadelphia Eagles football player Dennis DeVaughn and his wife Maureen Murphy to bring together the professional sports community to improve the lives of troubled teens in the juvenile system.”
It’s one big team effort at AFC, and the staff has fostered great relationships with their youth by creating a “team sport dynamic” throughout the facility. The staff members are called “coach” by the youth “players,” and staff believes this down to earth, non-threatening and relatable title engages youth in the program. These coaches are constantly helping their players by supporting and mentoring them in their quest for success. Coaches developed a list of program values by emphasizing the C.H.A.N.G.E. acronym (Compassion, Honesty, Accountability, Not Giving Up, and Education). They believe in their C.H.A.N.G.E. program and incorporate the value system into the everyday lives of their youth. Mentoring is a big concept at AFC, and while the coaches offer excellent support and guidance to the youth residents, the RTC’s practice of bringing some of the young people into leadership roles by designating them as “veterans” or “assistant coaches” allows for peer- to-peer counseling and mentoring to the other young people in areas in which they might need help.
Besides an original and innovative approach to youth work, AFC also offers a great home-like environment that has abundance of fresh air and even some wildlife. The grounds are separated into four facilities including: the main house; a satellite house; an indoor swimming pool; and an educational center. The main house includes a fully functional kitchen, quiet area for group work and most of the bedrooms. These rooms are spacious and themed appropriately with National Football League teams. The main house represents the National Football Conference (Dallas, Philly, etc.) while the smaller house represents the American Football Conference. These conferences translate into teams for daily activities and games that help build and form both camaraderie and healthy competition.
The additional house includes more team bedrooms while the educational center acts as a fully functional classroom including computers and monitors. The school is connected to the local school district and gives credits for classes such as Basic English and mathematical courses offered in high school. AFC is giving the best they have to positively change the lives of the youth in their care, and that’s more than anyone could ask for.
“Always give the best that I have, if I should get tired sit down rest awhile
l get back up learn some more never give up never give up AfC 1, 2, 3 ! “