Alana Fisher has a smile that lights up the room. She rushes in with a contagious energy and immediately introduces herself and her mom, Anna. She’s confident, polite, and exudes joy. After a year of quarantine and Zoom meetings, she’s a breath of fresh air. Alana is full of hope – something she wouldn’t have said about herself four years ago.
When Alana was 16 and in the tenth grade, she entered Kingswood Academy, the Winston-Salem Forsyth County school located on our Winston-Salem campus, and enrolled in Crossnore’s Day Treatment program. For Alana to be successful at that point in her life, she needed structure, a small classroom setting, close relationships with her teachers, one-on-one support from our Day Treatment staff, and peers she could relate to – friends who knew what it was like to struggle.
Coming to our Day Treatment program.
April Hargrove, one of Alana’s Day Treatment Counselors, says that when Alana first arrived in fall of 2017, she was extremely timid, standing away from others in the corner. Alana came to Crossnore’s Day Treatment program with low self confidence, high anxiety, and had a hard time regulating her emotions and thoughts. “I was angry,” she says. “Not angry toward people. Just angry.”
Alana had been through a lot in her early life and needed some help overcoming her trauma. That’s where the amazing staff of both Crossnore and Kingswood School stepped in. Alana was nervous on her first day, but says the staff was right by her side the entire time. “All the staff helped me get acclimated. When I didn’t understand something, they took the time to elaborate.” Guided by their patience and understanding, Alana progressed. “I was very nervous,” she recalls, “but I had hope.”
Beginning to blossom.
She not only gained confidence, but coping skills, life skills, and strategies to recognize and control her emotions. Alana still uses those skills today. She recalls being taught to “STOP” when triggered. “Stop. Take a step back. Observe your surroundings. Proceed,” Alana recites. “Sometimes I don’t think before I act,” she admits. “STOP helps me not be so impulsive.” Alana said it was also helpful to learn about the Zones of Regulation – blue, green, yellow, and red – which help students know where they are on an emotional scale and leads to self awareness and emotion management.
Through quality relationships with her teachers and the care of Day Treatment staff, Alana began to blossom. She began engaging with peers in Group and began to recognize her positive attributes. “Once she acknowledged that she was artistic, helpful, a good friend, smart, and worthy of love, she no longer needed help in that department,” laughs April. “She gained so much self confidence. It was wonderful to see her ‘toot her own horn,’ so to speak.”
Gaining skills for the future.
Alana gained important skills for independence, as well. In Day Treatment, students learn interview skills, money management, budgeting, how to fill out job applications, and basic housekeeping skills. Alana also enjoyed the peer counseling in Group. Once a girl who stood off to the side, Alana grew close to those in her group. “They’re some of my best friends,” she gushes. “We still hang out.”
“Everyone knew Alana,” says April. “She was very unique. Whether it was the color of her hair to her choice of outfit, you knew when she was in the room. She was able to form relationships with peers and was very dedicated to those she cared about. Alana was like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. She grew and blossomed here.”
Alana went from staying distant in the corner to performing a solo dance at the school talent show. Timid to confident. Afraid to accepted. Hopeless to healed. “She worked hard,” says April. “Alana set goals and achieved them. She always acknowledged what she needed to work on, and then she did it.”
A bright future ahead.
And she’s still doing it. Alana graduated in the Spring of 2020 – an accomplishment she describes as “exhilarating” and one that brought her whole family to tears. She is currently working 22 hours a week at Biscuitville, arriving at 7 am and never a minute late.
She’s also taking classes to earn an Associates Degree at Forsyth Tech, and is excited about her future. “I want to help people,” she says, “and maybe open my own dance studio.” She’s passionate about serving children, fighting for women, and advocating for environmental conservation. April sees that passion too. “I’m so proud of her. I can see her being anything from a dancer to a motivational speaker. She has a story to tell.”
Believing there’s always hope.
Anna, Alana’s mom, credits the staff for much of Alana’s growth. “The staff here cared for her daily. They were so, so genuine, and truly have a passion for what they do. From the principal of the school to the teachers to the Day Treatment staff. And the therapists! Her psychiatrist and therapist here were just amazing. ”
“I am who I am now because of everyone here who helped me,” says Alana. “And if I can do it, anyone can. You have to put the effort in and let people help you. You have to believe there’s always hope. I did.”
There is always hope. And Alana, this beautiful and effervescent young woman, is living proof.