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Boys Town Washington DC Helps Youth Find a New Comfort Zone

For Boys Town Washington DC youth Isaiah Thomas, communication was a major obstacle standing between the 18-year-old becoming successful in school and in life.

Isaiah came to Boys Town having suffered through many challenges. The loss of his mother caused a great deal of fear within the youth.  Isaiah would show obvious signs that he struggled to speak with others and that their presence made him uncomfortable. He would always do whatever he was asked and never made any fuss. But he kept himself in his own little cocoon – a comfort zone of sorts. For some, it was easier to leave him alone and not push him out of that comfort zone.

But that was before Isaiah was placed with Boys Town Family Teachers Chris Young and Nafia Abdurrahim. They helped Isaiah find his way out of his cocoon and onto the road to success.

Isaiah had some definite issues he was dealing with before he came to Boys Town. First, he lost his mother. Isaiah also suffered from medical neglect, which brought him into Boys Town's care. The medical issues led to his struggles in school after missing an entire year. Isaiah was very shy and found it difficult to communicate with peers and some of his teachers. Many people never noticed Isaiah and he became invisible to most. 

While in the Young's home, this past December, Isaiah lost his father. Depression soon set in. He initially struggled with the Boys Town model, as well.

This led to the Youngs' springing into action to help 

Right away they pushed Isaiah to shed his defensive non-social personality. He tried to fight it, but his Family-Teachers wouldn't give in. They pushed Isaiah to participate in activities with all the youth in the home and made sure he did things that he had said made him uncomfortable in the past. 

One big breakthrough was helping Isaiah gain the confidence to self-transport. He had refused to use public transportation or travel by himself to get to school. The Youngs helped him with the process by initially riding the train with him, eventually letting him make the trip to school every morning by himself. The couple was able to bring Isaiah out of his shell by building a great relationship with him and being sure he was able to get one-on-one attention. They also held him accountable for his actions.

The Youngs also learned that Isaiah is very much about order and structure. He likes things to be done a certain way and likes clear and concise instructions. This has helped him as he set goals to graduate high school and go on to college.

Losing his father was very hard on Isaiah. But working with the Youngs and their brilliant team of Boys Town personnel, as well as therapy and other outside sources, he started to make progress. You would hardly ever see Isaiah without his favorite hoodie. It was a security blanket, of sorts, always with the hood up and headphones on. Eventually, Isaiah started to show his face, taking his hood off. That growth and learning to express himself, helped him progress with other social skills.

Isaiah is in the process of graduating from Anacostia High School in Washington DC. He is doing well in school, compiling a 3.75 grade point average in the fourth quarter. He is working this summer to complete his required courses to graduate. Again, Mr. and Mrs. Young were there to help. Isaiah fell behind in previous years, but they stuck with him and made sure to follow up with the school to get him enrolled in extra classes. Thanks to that persistence, he has been accepted and will attend Lincoln University in Pennsylvania this fall.

Everyone comments on how Isaiah shows his beautiful smile and initiates conversations. Isaiah has truly found his voice while being at Boys Town. He says in the future he wants to stay close to his Boys Town family. One day Isaiah says he plans to give back to youth such as himself by becoming a therapist at the Boys Town DC Behavioral Healthcare Clinic.