“From all struggles, for all people, there’s just one recovery and it’s where the connection is human,” the mission statement of One Recovery, which founder Lynne Pedersen has pretty much has summed up.
Pedersen was inspired to create a program of recovery for the community when she was working with adolescent teens who struggle with mental health or drug and alcohol abuse issues. Eventually, she realized that young people struggle with other issues besides substance abuse and mental health issues.
“It had always been in my heart to help,” Pedersen explained. She felt that the community needed an organization that recognized all struggles and that there is a recovery for each.
She intertwines the human connection and inspiration as “a way to heal struggle,” which she says “can just be life, school, parents, or breathing.” They have come far in the 32 years since they began their “art-infused support” in the Pasadena Unified School District.
Last fall, One Recovery approached Corona del Mar High School (CdM) and implemented the program into the CdM society January 2016. CdM and One Recovery have been working closely to expand their organization.
There are two groups, the parent group and the student group. The parent group hears educational speakers and reads books. Their campaign for this year is “Just Say No,” this encourages parents to put up boundaries for their children because when parents let their children make poor decisions, it robs the child of their potential.
The student group, which meets Monday nights, opens up their meetings with two minutes of silent meditation. They also invite a variety of speakers, including writers, painters, and lawyers. During the meeting, all of the students have the opportunity to ask questions and gain thoughtful insights from the speaker. If any of the students have anything they want to talk about, they can share it with the group.
Each meeting is unique. Some meetings, the groups go out and paint in the quad, talk, and potentially showcase their work later in an art show. These meetings are not just for kids with substance abuse problems. One Recovery can help a child no matter the problem.
The Suspension Detention Exchange, which is for students who have been in trouble with the administration, is an exchange from a detention or suspension for eight One Recovery meetings and for the parents to come to the parent group. Most of the students who come in on a daily basis to talk, hang out, or eat lunch in the One Recovery building do not even have to be there. They just enjoy the positive attitude that pulses through the room.
Pedersen is not only a great help to all the students in the meetings, but also makes herself available 24/7. She frequently goes out with the students for coffee, and besides being a certified counselor, these coffee trips are to “just touch base.” If a child’s situation is something that Pedersen cannot deal with, she finds the resources they need. She very much stresses the “no one left behind” motto.
Some of the words used by the students, whose names have been omitted due to confidentiality, to describe One Recovery were welcoming and friendly. One Recovery has given the students, as one commented, “[a] judgment free space where you can create.” When asked what their favorite part of One Recovery was immediately a student said, “Lynne, 100 percent.”
The majority of the participants said that the meetings, speakers (especially Bo Jessy Christopher), and painting has helped them the most.
“I have friends now,” another student commented, addressing the common thoughts of the students that One Recovery is a place where you can “expand your friend group.” The students want you to know that One Recovery is “not just a drug problem” program but a welcoming, judgement free environment where you can be yourself. One Recovery has helped these students for the future by teaching them social skills and “how to deal with emotions.”
After being approved by Newport-Mesa Unified School District, One Recovery plans to spread their message to Seattle, Austin, and Nashville in all art-infused communities where they can find artists and authors to speak to the students.
Pedersen is very grateful for the help of assistant principal Daniel Patterson, who “opened the door” for One Recovery and is assisting them in “doing everything possible.”
Patterson describes One Recovery as a “progressive and accessible alternative to traditional discipline.” He believes that the third-party aspect of this program will help kids stop bad and hurtful behavior if they hear it from someone else who is not their parents or administration. He feels that bringing an “inspiration outlet” to the school community will circulate a new energy and help change negative behavior. Patterson’s goal is to help the students of CdM in the long-term.
“One Recovery is not a program just for kids with drugs and alcohol [abuse issues,] it’s for any kid who wants to be inspired [and] see things in a different way. It can be for any kid,” he said.