Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Afterall at Gateway Academy in Salt Lake City Utah

This story was originally written on the message board called the Fornits Home for Wayward Webfora. All rights and credits goes to the author known as Afterall:

In response to the reply from the parent whose child got kicked out of Gateway 2010. I was at gateway from Late 09 to mid 10. I spent six months at the program which is relatively short. Most people I knew would stay from 8-11 months. Fortunately I turned 18 and graduated high school so I had much leverage to leave. I spent 9 weeks at a wilderness program before being taken to Gateway. I got driven directly from wilderness to gateway by my wilderness therapist. Arriving at Gateway I was really happy not to have to sleep outside anymore. From then on I started noticing how messed up the place was. Everything was on a schedule and there was no flexibility and little to no freedom. In the mornings we would wake up and do "morning rec". This consisted of either dancing to "Sweating to the Oldies" or following a workout plan created by one of the obese Grave staff babysitters. This would be a anything ranging from step-ups to pseudo-yoga. You would have to follow every activity with a smile on your face or you would receive a lower grade on your shift sheet. Ranging from 1-4. (Shifts sheets help determine which level you could apply for).

After the morning rec you "line up in silence" and then go upstairs to shower. Someone who wanted a "4" on their shifts sheet would volunteer to time showers. A shower would be 3 minutes with the water on. As I said before everything is based on a schedule and routine. You would make your bed, get dressed, and then line up to go downstairs for breakfast. Most of the time that I was at Gateway there would be someone who would throw a tantrum and wouldn't leave their room so everyone would have to wait till another staff would arrive so we could all go downstairs.

School is three classes a day at 1.5 hours a day Monday-Friday. Many of the teachers seemed qualified and it's extremely difficult to not do your homework when you have so much support. I am happy for that one aspect of Gateway as I left with better grades that look good on a college transcript.

There's a mid-day "Mat Class" which is run by which-ever student wants a good score on their shift sheet. More yoga nonsense.

After school there is a 10-20 minute recess and then a 2 hour group. The group includes a check-in and then focuses on whichever inmates are the most fucked up that day/week. Includes "negative confrontations" aka some kid has beef with another kid, and "negative contracts" some kids talk shit or talk about not gateway appropriate topics. The entire program shapes the community into policing each other by "holding boundaries" aka tattle tailing anytime someone breaks any of the hundreds of rules.

So groups over, now its a recess and a study hall. Dinner. Then a study hall/freetime and after that a Evening group (I forgot what they call it.) People check-in, give feedback (tattle tale), and then write down a some shit about their day. Then off to bed.

The schedule at gateway is like that Monday through Thursday. Fridays have more groups and activities. Saturdays and Sundays we would go skiing, rock climbing, or to the recreation center.

Random shit: A lot of the time we could not go to the recreation center or out of the house due to one of the boys throwing a tantrum. There is a strict 1-4 staff-student ratio. All conversations must be heard by a staff "staff earshot"--- some staff were bigger dicks about that rule than others.

  • Orientation: first week or two of arriving. No book reading, no social call with parents, can't talk to students Under Mapping with trust, no playing games without a staff. Can't be alone ever.
  • Mapping: Can play games, can't talk to students Under Mapping with trust, no books besides self-help, 10 minute social call with parents (with staff on phone), on campus parent visits.
  • Mapping with Trust: Takes a month to 6 months to make. 15 min social calls w/ staff. Can read books. Can talk to any student. 6 hour off campus parent visits.
  • Cairns: 2 months to 6 7 months to make. Can "roam" with staff permission (walk around house alone). Walks outside of house. 20 minute parent calls without staff. Ipod. Overnight visits. Go on facebook with therapist.
  • Path: No shift sheet. Longer Parent calls. Can talk to the public.
  • Gateway: Final phase. Other random privileges.

  • Block: Piece of paper with punishment on it. You swear= you write a paper. Punishment up to staff discretion. 4 blocks=off phase.
  • Off Phase: Can only talk to the upper phases, lose some privileges.
  • Off track: if you mess up. Can't talk to anyone even staff. Sometimes kept in room all day with a staff. Have to do assignments to get back on track. Can be put off track for going on the internet, fighting staff, relapsing, or constant negativity. Basically a solitary/segregation punishment.

Finally: So that was probably a shit ton to read. I probably left a bunch out. These type of programs put the parents against their child. You don't know what to do with your kid so you sent them away, so who do you trust? The therapist or the kid? The therapist will try to keep your child as long as possible and even suggest a Transitional Living Program if your child is not committed to being sober.

My aftermath. I was at Gateway for six months. I made the Cairns phase but left the program "off-track" as I had been involved in an incident a week before. I threatened to leave the program when put off track as I was 18. My therapist called the Transitional Living I was supposed to go to and had them tell me I would not be accepted if I left gateway before my release date a week later. My parents would not let me come home. Well two months down the line I had been at the Transitional Living and was told I would have to stay 4 months longer. So I left and went on a drug binge. I was sent to a wilderness again. Now I live at home a smoke marijuana a bunch, and do not work or go to college as of yet. If you're rich Gateway is good daycare/jail and can lead to more money down the drain. Is your "marijuana addicted teen" worth 150k? I think not....


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