Adventure Works of Dekalb County

Gather, Guide, Grow

Mission

Guiding youth in overcoming life challenges through adventure based counseling and education.

Ruling year info

2011

Principal Officer

Lynette Spencer

Main address

1211 SYCAMORE ROAD

DEKALB, IL 60115 USA

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EIN

27-1897885

NTEE code info

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Community Mental Health Center (F32)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Currently in Illinois, youth are not receiving adequate mental health services. At any point in time, one in 10 children in Illinois suffers from a mental illness severe enough to cause some level of impairment; yet in any given year, only about 20% of these children receive mental health services. This is due to many factors, including lack of access to affordable services, cultural beliefs surrounding therapy and negative attitudes based on past experiences. Further, while many families now have health insurance, high deductibles, copays and out-of-pocket expenses make the cost of mental health services increasingly unaffordable. Adventure Works is an accredited outdoor behavioral healthcare program that seeks to reduce these barriers by providing a full spectrum of integrated healthcare services including prevention, education, mental health counseling and positive youth development programming to underserved youth in DeKalb County and surrounding areas.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Adventure Therapy

Adventure Works serves ages 0-26 and believes that people of any age can benefit from our effective approach to counseling. In conjunction with the use of adventure activities, our therapists provide an engaging way of counseling to promote growth and change, often called adventure therapy.

You can learn more about how adventure therapy is defined by clicking here. Our program is evidence supported and we were recently published in the Journal of Social Work for Groups. You can access the research here.

Adventure Works therapists are committed to a client-centered approach incorporating the most effective and appropriate treatment options for their client(s). By working as a partner in the process, therapists can help identify a client's own strengths and supports to meet their goals.

Adventure Works is a non-profit organization and strives to provide counseling services to youth regardless of their ability to pay using a sliding fee scale, supplemented by grants and donations from the community.

Adventure Works accepts many insurance plans and private pay fees with adult clients. Due to our non-profit status and funding structure, no financial support is available for adult clients at this time.

Population(s) Served

In addition to counseling, Adventure Works also offers Positive Youth Development Groups. Positive Youth Development groups are designed to encourage healthy risk taking and to nurture positive behaviors, which include: Competence, Confidence, Character, Compassion, Connection, and Contribution.

Adventure Works can facilitate engaging programs for your business, school, church, or organization. Creativity is key to our community-based work. We can design activities to promote team-building, communication, problem-solving, goal setting, or even facilitate outdoor education/adventures...all based on your group needs.

Population(s) Served

Early Risk Assessment Project (ERAP) is a program used in DeKalb County to help keep low risk and first time offender juveniles out of the court system. This voluntary program is offered to juveniles who have little to no criminal history and who have not been arrested for an offense involving a sex-based incident, use of a firearm, or violence.

If the juvenile is offered ERAP and they decide to participate in the program, Adventure Works is one of two partner agencies to choose from. Once the juvenile has been assigned to Adventure Works, our ERAP Coordinator will give them an assessment to help determine their overall risk of re-offending and what services will best assist them in making better choices in the future.

Upon successful completion of ERAP, the juvenile’s case will be closed without ever going to court. The recidivism rate is 4% for youth who have successfully completed this program over four years' time. This compares with 28% statewide.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Adventure Works defines success through the positive growth experienced by clients and their families and through growth of the organization. Adventure Works has established the following goals for its work:

1. Reduce stigma associated with mental illness.
2. Provide experiences that will enhance the learning and therapeutic environments.
3. Alleviate the poverty of positive experiences that affects those living in financial poverty.
4. Provide alternative approach for those who have not been successful in traditional/office-based therapy.
5. Build the “6 Cs” of PYD in youth: Confidence, Connection, Character, Commitment, Compassion and Contribution to community.

Adventure Works is an accredited outdoor behavioral healthcare program that provides a full spectrum of integrated healthcare services including prevention, education, mental health counseling and positive youth development programs to underserved youth.

Adventure Works accomplishes its goals through the following strategies and programs:

Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (Adventure Therapy): Adventure Works’ outdoor behavioral healthcare programming relies on adventure therapy, which is the prescriptive use of adventure experiences provided by mental health professionals, often conducted in natural settings that engage clients on cognitive, affective and behavioral levels. Examples of adventure therapy activities include walking to the nearby lagoon, going on a nature walk, slacklining on property, playing basketball, or participating in a challenge course. Adventure Works serves children and adolescents through age 26 and will accept any individual in need of treatment regardless of their ability to pay. Youth are often referred to Adventure Works in situations where traditional counseling methods have been unsuccessful.

Positive Youth Development (PYD) Programs: Through its PYD programming, Adventure Works provides group-based activities in the school setting. Groups meet once a week, and sessions focus on developing positive behaviors through activities that incorporate healthy risk-taking. Whenever possible, these groups engage in outdoor activities aligned with the tenets of outdoor behavioral healthcare. Adventure Works’ PYD programs seek to develop in youth the “Six C’s” of prosocial behavior: Competence, Confidence, Character, Compassion, Connection and Contribution to the community.

Adventure University: In 2016, Adventure Works piloted Adventure University, a PYD program in the University Village community, specifically working with critically underserved youth. Adventure University has evolved into a multi-faceted, collaborative program taking place after school and on-site in University Village, where 100% of the families are living in poverty. Youth served by the program face several challenges, such as food insecurity, anxiety, poverty and academic concerns. Adventure University provides safe, consistent and stable programming, homework help and nutrition to youth in the community. Youth also are provided opportunities to engage in outdoor behavioral healthcare and PYD activities to develop prosocial behaviors and address mental health concerns.

Early Risk Assessment Program: Adventure Works provides assessment and case management services to first-time offenders in collaboration with DeKalb County Juvenile Justice Council, county police departments, juvenile court, and Youth Service Bureau. This program addresses the social service needs of youth with the goal of reducing recidivism.

Adventure Works is an industry leader in providing mental health treatment through outdoor behavioral healthcare. In 2017, Adventure Works earned national accreditation as an outdoor behavioral healthcare (OBH) program by the Association of Experiential Education (AEE). As one of only fifteen nationally accredited AEE-OBH programs, Adventure Works offers evidence-based treatment and is committed to adhering to above industry standards of ethical care, treatment evaluation and risk-management practices that have been developed exclusively for outdoor behavioral healthcare programs.

Adventure Works’ programs are approved by AEE and the OBH Council and are guided by evidence-based practice. Outdoor behavioral healthcare treatment has been validated through peer-reviewed research, and the National Association for Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) engages in ongoing research to examine the effectiveness of programs addressing behavioral health. Adventure Works is one of the outdoor behavioral healthcare programs included in NATSAP’s research database.

Adventure Works employs a team of highly trained therapists to work with youth of all ages and to utilize tenants of outdoor behavioral healthcare. Adventure Works has experienced a steady, if not increasing, demand for its services year after year, revealing that youth desperately need the quality mental health treatment Adventure Works offers. Adventure Works offers life-changing mental health treatment in a setting not offered by other mental health providers in DeKalb County. Not every adolescent responds to traditional talk-therapy treatment, and the level of demand for the Adventure Therapy Program reveals that youth and their families are seeking innovative treatment options. Further, Adventure Works is available to bring its program to youth, reducing the barrier to access many families face. Adventure Works therapists go to local schools and community centers to provide outdoor behavioral healthcare to youth with no means for traveling to the office location.

In 2017, Adventure Works engaged in a rigorous study to assess the changes in youth engaged in its programs. This study, published (May 2018) in Journal of Social Work with Groups, found that clients who participated in Adventure Works' adventure therapy activities showed improvement in overall functioning as well as in areas related to personal relations and critical items. Adventure Works’ participation in this study builds on a body of research supporting the use of adventure therapy as an effective intervention in community setting. Through this research study, Adventure Works was not only able to expand upon and validate its existing program, but also to provide other outdoor behavioral healthcare programs with a successful example to replicate and build upon.

Results of prior evaluations reveal that Adventure Works is successfully supporting youth and their families. A 2017 evaluation by an independent consultant found that youth developed positive attitudes about themselves and their treatment through adventure therapy; parents were confident in the process and saw positive change in youth; and the unique model of adventure therapy made an impact beyond Adventure Works’ clients. Additionally, relieving negative stigma is crucial to engaging youth in meaningful growth. Adventure Works’ clients not only let go of their negative associations with therapy, but also enjoyed their experiences with Adventure Works so much that they talked about it with friends and at school. Similarly, parents reported that their children were motivated to attend sessions, were engaged in the process, and felt positively about the outcomes of their therapy. One hundred percent of the parents also reported that Adventure Works offered a safe place to learn, that their child was treated with dignity and respect, that they had a clear understanding of the program goals and objectives for their child, and that they would recommend Adventure Works to others.

Adventure Works continues to grow its programs and expand its reach in DeKalb County and surrounding areas. It provides quality mental healthcare services to youth who do not thrive in traditional talk-based therapy and is committed to serving every adolescent, regardless of their ability to pay. Finally, through its AEE-OBH accreditation and partnership with NATSAP, Adventure Works looks forward to contributing to a national body of research exploring the impacts of outdoor behavioral healthcare.

Financials

Adventure Works of Dekalb County
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Adventure Works of Dekalb County

Board of directors
as of 5/12/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Don Billington

Retired Educator

Term: 2017 - 2020

Don Billington

Retired Education/Community Member

Junelle Bennett

NIU Police Officer

Dale Boughton

Sundog IT

Jane Dargatz

Retired Educator/Community Member

Mary Gentile

Sycamore School Dist/Social Worker

Pam Hill

Elgin School District/Social Worker

Michael Cullen, Jr.

First Midwest Bank

Amy Oster

OC Creative

Karen Simmons

Genoa Kingston School District