Before Cookson Hills, I was a lost and rebellious child. I caused my family lots of emotional pain because of my daily choices. I was hurt as a child, but I didn’t know how to deal with it. I was asking for help in all the wrong ways and turned to the wrong crowds for answers. Soon enough I coped with my pain through doing drugs, running away, sneaking out constantly, and having sex with grown men. Eventually it caught up to me as I was sent to juvenile detention twice and spent a fair amount of time on house arrest. But this didn’t change the inner me. I still chased after the same things. So my parents sent me to Cookson Hills.
Looking back, I can honestly say it was the best decision that was ever made for my life. When I first got to Cookson Hills, I thought it was strange. It seemed boring and too strict. All the people were Christians and I just didn’t believe in that “nonsense” at the time, so it was a drag to have to hear the devotions and go to church. Then everything changed. I accepted Jesus as my Savior and had an eye opening experience where I actually felt God.
After that, I was able to accept the support and stable environment. I felt safe and at peace at Cookson Hills and it helped my faith flourish. Not only did I get to experience being a child of God there, but I learned many things that helped me in other areas of life. Over time, I was transformed into a respectful, mature child. I learned how to communicate effectively with others and how to complete basic living tasks. I also learned much about myself and how to improve my attitude and behavior. It was an amazing opportunity to better my character. And let me tell you: it did! I also had the chance to participate in activities like counseling that improved my family structure.
Two years later I reached my discharge date. I was nervous to go home feeling like my family wasn’t ready to accept the new me. But after six months of being home, I knew I had a good future ahead. The first two months were rocky as it was definitely an adjustment period. But then, it got better. My family has healed and bonded. I honestly never expected to have the relationship I have with them today. I haven’t been in any trouble and everyone is always commenting on how it seems like I’m a different person. Cookson Hills has changed my life.