Here we go

The day has finally arrived and I’m travelling to New York University in Prague to meet Dr Kimball and some of the Texas Tech collegiate recovery students on their study abroad programme. I have never travelled abroad alone before. It feels slightly scary but the fire in my belly is keeping me looking forward. I often wonder how I end up in these situations!

I open an email from Dr Kimball asking me to meet them at 8.30am as we are spending the day at Prague Zoo. I’m relieved as it will be informal and allow me to get to know folk in a relaxed atmosphere. I meet Dr Kimball and his lovely wife Melissa at the tram stop, the students arrive shortly after looking a bit tired, its early!

Prague zoo is stunning and well worth a visit. I am told Dr Kimball will deliver his lectures at various points around the zoo. Today we will look at the six essentials for achieving lasting recovery –

Hope: A reawakening after despair; to live with greater confidence

Healthy Coping Skills: Managing the pain and stress of life

Sense of Achievement and Accomplishment: Moving beyond the limits of addiction toward personal goals

Capacity for Meaningful Relationships: The positive support and connection with family and peers

Unique Identity Development: The emergence of a unique positive identity

Reclamation of Agency: The internal knowledge that you have choices in your behaviour

Essentials to Achieve Lasting Recovery
by Sterling T Shumway, Thomas G. Kimball

I really enjoy chipping in my thoughts with the students in response to Dr Tom’s probing. Its hard to grasp some of the students are only 18/19 with 2 plus years sobriety, the more mature students with longer sobriety are still only in their 20’s. There is a mature student in the group who I can see plays the maternal role. We reach the petting  zoo, no matter how many years they have in recovery, they suddenly seem very young, getting all excited feeding the sheep and goats. It feels alien to me, having had little experience with young people who have sustained recovery. Its proof enough we have an opportunity to do something more.

Vince arrives on my 3rd day, his role provides recovery support and directly oversees the collegiate recovery programme. The students are really pleased to see him.Over the next 2 days I hear how the Collegiate Recovery programme works at Texas Tech University and what’s important to the students. The space, good coffee and free printing seems to be at the top, somewhere to hang out and feel connected in between class. Feeling connected is vital for anyone in recovery from addiction and I can absolutely see how within an educational setting it offers resilience. Dr Tom and Vince are also crucial. The relationship the students have with them both is just lovely to observe. Laid back, on the level, approachable and caring. The love they both have for their students is evident. Students who during their addiction would have felt unlovable, were very obviously accepted, respected and loved.

Its time to fly home but I’m looking forward to the following week when Dr Tom, Melissa and Vince arrive in Middlesbrough to help me raise awareness of the benefits of Collegiate Recovery. We have a meeting with Teesside University to talk about the concept followed by a seminar and the first UK screening of Generation Found, a film about sober educational settings.

How did that happen?

A hard night with the baby, Prague Zoo







8 thoughts on “Here we go

  1. Hi Dot, sounds like you had a great and interesting time. Wishing you well with your venture and introducing the concept to Middlesbrough. Mark Gilman was telling me all about it yesterday. Would love to see if there’s any energy for it here in Manchester. Perhaps we can catch up and discuss?
    Hope all’s well with you and yours,


  2. Well written Dot, I particularly like the words “Its proof enough we have an opportunity to do something more” and we do have that opportunity through you with your scholarship. I know you will bring back knowledge to the UK that can be used to make many peoples lives much better. Let’s hope that it is well received and others have the guts and conviction to implement the strategies you learn and bring back to us.


  3. So so proud of your commitment Dot, it fills my heart with hope to know you and the lengths you are prepared to go to help the still sufffering, I’ve been working with young mums and their kids for 19 years and now I am starting to see the impact of early recovery intervention can have on these beautiful little lives. Planting the seed of HOPE is essential. Keep shining beautiful lady and if we can help in any way, just shout xxx
    Much love Clare & Kev Kennedy xxx


  4. Nice one Dot,you should of said you were going I could of carried your bags.I think it’s amazing what your doing for those who still suffer and for those on there way to recovery.


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