When a friend suggested that Steve Swart disc jockey a talent show at Highfields, he wasn’t sure it was something he wanted to do. He had never worked with kids before. But, just for fun, he did it anyway — and he loved it.
Swart said seeing all the positive work done at Highfields to support kids changed him. Within a year, he applied for a job with the organization and now has been with Highfields for 10 years and with Ingham Academy for the past five.
“It’s a great place to work,” he said. “It’s a stressful job but I can’t imagine a more fulfilling job.”
Steve is a behavior treatment specialist at Ingham Academy. He works with kids on improving their social skills and works to train other Highfields staff in Aggression Replacement Training (ART). ART focuses on improving anger management and social skills.
“The more we can give them skills they can take with them — that they’ll always have with them — that’s the treatment that matters,” he said. “That’s the thing that changes their life.”
Steve said with help from the courts, the community, and voters, programs that are proven to help kids also decrease crime and continue to improve the community.
“If there’s not a program to help these kids get jobs and a future, we’re giving them up to crime,” he said. “Science would say this is a good investment and being here with these kids lets me know it’s a good investment, too.”
To him, Ingham Academy is a place for growth. It’s a place where kids who may have been forgotten are now nurtured.
“Before these programs, schools in general would ignore them until they could expel them,” he said. “[That is] creating a class of kids who don’t have a lot of options. [At Ingham Academy,] we’re creating a class of kids who haven’t been given up on. We’re creating a generation of adults that can function and be successful.”