When kids come to Eagle Village for a stay in our residential facility they begin their program in the observation stage. From there they earn their way to Hand Stage, Head Stage, and, finally, Heart Stage.  Heart Stage is the final stop before graduating the Eagle Village Program and heading home, to a foster family, or to independent living.

Heart Stage is a big deal around Eagle Village.

It means extra privileges, a little more freedom, and a whole lot of satisfaction for progressing so far.  It takes a lot of effort to earn a chance for Heart Stage though.  In addition to good behavior and hard work in therapy, residents also have to petition staff for letters of recommendation, complete service projects, and present their case for Heart Stage at a meeting of Eagle Village staff and, if appropriate, family or outside case workers.

Watching a Heart Stage presentation is pure JOY!  With gentle prompts the kids present how far they have come, the coping skills they have learned, how their attitude has changed, and what they have learned that will help them in the future.  It is also a chance for staff to heap the encouragement on.

“I’m so proud of you!”

“You’ve come so far.”

“To think back to when you arrived- I see huge change.”

“I’m so impressed!”

“This is who you always were on the inside.”

Not every resident makes Heart Stage, but those that do have made a real change in their lives.

“Darin has gone from having outbursts – either anger outbursts or emotional outbursts – going from 0 to 10 for either no reason or any reason to just being cool, calm, collected, having a very positive attitude, being respectful,” said one mom after her son’s Heart Stage presentation.  “We had a lot of issues with defiance, behavioral issues, stealing. Gosh, you name it, we had it. And at this point with Darin he has learned boundaries, respect. He’s earned back trust. He’s got a whole new outlook on life. This has by far been the best program Darin has ever been in – and there’s been several. So, I can’t tell you how thankful we are for Eagle Village.”

Way to go Darin and all our other Heart Stagers!