Updated: Jul 14, 2019
I was first led to an interest in forming a school for boys with ADHD by Joan Landes, a licensed clinical mental health therapist in Utah County. She approached me and told me that there was a great unfulfilled need for education that catered to the needs of kids with ADHD who had been left behind by the failing school system, and particularly boys. Joan had seen in the Utah County community the lack of any real attempt at individualized teaching for boys with ADHD and, since a "one size fits all" approach did not work for them, the system would not slow down to cater to their needs, but left them far behind. These boys would either rebel and act out in behavioral ways or simply "zone out" and academically stultify. Either way, the effect reinforced their self-image that they were somehow defective or "stupid".
Added to that burden, these emotionally vulnerable young men would be constantly reminded that any demonstration of masculine strength or vitality was to be punished as "toxic masculinity" in today's politically correct atmosphere. No wonder then, that these boys retreat into an alternate reality of video gaming where their natural, God-given masculinity can find some type of outlet without condemnation. However, alternate realities come with a terrible price, as the human psyche cannot process an alternate reality in a way that translates into a healthy mind and body. Thus, as generation Z has steadily increased its usage of social media and screen time, the suicide rate has begun sharply rising, especially among young men.These data spurred me to do something.
With over twenty years of counseling families of patients with ADHD, I had a wealth of experience in how different patients could react in completely opposite ways to the same medication. Truly, there was no "typical" ADHD patient. but only an individual that fell somewhere on a broad spectrum of the disorder.
With that experience as a pharmacist and raising two children with ADHD, I took the initiative to found the BreakOut School, a non-profit venture that seeks to capitalize on the benefits of Outdoor Education to the needs of boys with ADHD.
So many families locally are struggling with what to do with their boys who cannot keep up with school and are struggling socially and physically. Out of desperation, they are sometimes pulling their kids out of school entirely, even if they don't feel equipped to homeschool them!
Bullying can be a massive issue, and even though lip service is paid regularly to the problem, it seems when there actually is an incident , the schools are slow to act against the offending bully and ironically make life worse for the whistleblower! This discourages reporting bullying, especially if the child learns that reporting doesn't stop the bullying, or worse, escalates it. Often, children with ADHD who are integrated into the classroom are targets for bullies because of their "other" status as resource students.
For local families, one of the primary obstacles to obtaining individualized education for their children with ADHD is cost. BreakOut School has partnered with KidCEO, a bold venture that seeks to provide community business mentors to these children so that they can pay for part or all of the private school tuition cost through their own businesses!
Studies have shown that for most adults who have ADHD, it is very difficult for them to hold down regular employment, and often, they end up becoming entrepreneurs...but usually only after a series of painful terminations and economic hardship.
BreakOut School and KidCEO seek to help these students get a head start on their entrepreneur journey to avoid those costly side trips in their life. I believe as the mission of BreakOut School succeeds, it will most assuredly help strengthen families, because it will enable young men to provide for their own families and become role models for their own children and their communities as strong, confident entrepreneurs and leaders.
I see BreakOut School expanding in 10-15 years into a module-based program that replicates into any area that has Education Outside the Classroom (EOTC) opportunities, to take advantage of the many evidence-based benefits of studying in a nature-based environment. With growth, we can generate our own data that will be used to further an expansion of this model for the future. Dallin Richardson