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The “Tough Guy” Transformation

Guest post by Tedisha Burgess, Eckerd Kids Community Intervention Counselor

Travious Steele
Travious Steele, program participant

Travious Steele was one of my first cases at Eckerd Kids after I completed my training. When I first met Travious, he was trying to be intimidating by walking with swag, wearing a stern look on his face, and sporting a pair of jeans with a body-builder weight vest and no shirt. Travious proceed to say to me, “Hey! Y’all from Eckerd?”

I looked the young man in the face and asked, “Yes, are you Travious?” The teen stated that he indeed was Travious and proceeded to invite us into the house. Before getting out of the car, I looked over at Christal Herbin my supervisor and we both giggled a bit at his “tough guy” act.

A 17-year-old young man, Travious was placed on probation after being arrested for fighting. The courts ordered him to complete community-based services with Eckerd as part of his probation. Travious is a very bright and intelligent young man. Like many teenagers, he just has a difficult time making the right decisions.

Travious made the following goals for himself: make better decisions, learn to communicate in an appropriate manner to adults and authority figures and reduce his substance abuse, specifically the smoking of marijuana. He had a cycle of doing the right thing for a couple of months, and then going astray. The relationship between Travious and his mother was also strained; his mother thought his use of inappropriate language was disrespectful.

When I started visiting Travious, the first rule that we set was not to use any foul language. I explained to him that in order to get respect, he had to give it, and using foul language was not acceptable. This rule was put into place to show Travious that you can express your emotions without cursing, as well as to help him break the habit.

I’m proud to report that Travious has been through Eckerd’s residential camp in Candor, where he began to understand that he is in control of his own behavior and how childish his temper tantrums at home with his mother make him look. Travious now has his driver’s license and is working part-time with a former teacher cleaning up school buildings. He is a senior in high school this year and has completed all his community service hours. All charges that Travious had were dropped, and he has recently completed his probation. The relationship between Travious and his mother is doing much better, and his use of inappropriate language has declined tremendously. I’m very proud to have been a part of this young man’s life and witness his second chance.