Pubdate: Wed, 25 Jan 2012 Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN) Copyright: 2012 The Leader-Post Ltd. Contact: http://www.leaderpost.com/opinion/letters/letters-to-the-editor.html Website: http://www.leaderpost.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/361 Author: Kerry Benjoe, Leader-Post LEADING THE WAY IN YOUTH TREATMENT Leading Thunderbird Lodge the youth treatment centre, in Fort Qu'Appelle, has been changing lives. The centre opened its doors in 2007, the goal was to focus on spirituality and culture. It has evolved over the years, but culture has remained a key component. Michael Tyance, a former client of the centre, is happy such a place exists. Originally from Thunder Bay, Ont., the now 20-year-old took a chance and travelled to Saskatchewan to seek treatment for his addictions. On Oct 12, 2009, Tyance walked through the doors of the centre and says it was "best decision I ever made." Although he was only 16, his life was already in a downward spiral addicted to drugs, living on the streets and in trouble with the law. "I started smoking marijuana at 14 and was addicted to pills by age 16," said Tyance. "I committed crimes to help fuel my habit and had legal problems." That's when he heard about an aboriginal youth treatment centre in Fort San and agreed to treatment. He admitted that it was hard at first but eventually came to love his time at the centre. "There were two main things that I already liked about it," said Tyance. "One was the cultural program that they had and the other was the horse program with Twisted Wire Ranch that I really liked." It was the first time he had participated in cultural activities or seen a horse. Tyance said the staff at the centre was great and with the centre's programs and support of others he was able to turn his life around. For 12 weeks, clients participate in cultural, spiritual, clinical and educational programs. Originally, it took both female and male clients but now focuses on males between the ages of 12 and 17. "I took a chance and never looked back," said Tyance. "I love my life now." He not only completed the 12-week program, but went on to graduate high school, took up bronco riding and is a Twisted Wire Ranch employee. "I work hard for what I have," said Tyance. He plans on taking up a trade such as welding within the next couple of years. Tyance said his family in Thunder Bay are happy with his successes and are proud of what he has accomplished. If it weren't for the centre he believes he would still be living on the streets of Thunder Bay. Karen Main, executive director of the lodge said success stories like Tyance are the most rewarding. On average, about 60-to 75-percent of clients graduate. She estimates about 200 youths have received treatment. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.