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Teen Challenge rehabilitation center to take root in mid-Missouri

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 | 7:29 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Women who are struggling with alcohol and substance abuse might soon have another treatment option to help both themselves and their children.

Teen Challenge, a faith-based recovery program, is in the process of establishing a rehabilitation center in the Columbia area.

Teen Challenge of Central Missouri banquet

What: A banquet to introduce the Columbia community to Teen Challenge.

When: 6:30 p.m. May 31

Where: Columbia First Assembly, 1100 Seventh St.

Cost: Free



The program was originally created to help teenage gang members, which is where the organization got its name, according to its official website. Shortly after its founding in 1958, the focus shifted to helping individuals with drug and alcohol addictions.

"We are a faith-based program and ministry," said Jim Lowans, executive director of Teen Challenge International. "The principles and curriculum are founded on the principles of the Bible."

Lowans said the organization is associated with the Assemblies of God denomination but accepts students from all backgrounds.

Of the more than 200 Teen Challenge centers in the United States, Teen Challenge of Central Missouri will be one of just five centers to serve both mothers and their children.

Kristie Loveall, the clinical director at Reality House Programs Inc., a treatment and rehabilitation center in Columbia, said she believes mother/children programs are important for the rebuilding of families. 

"A lot of times, when mothers get in the cycle of addiction, it affects whole families, because they are usually the primary caretakers," Loveall said.

Teen Challenge of Central Missouri will provide a year-long residency program for its students. During the course of the year, the mothers will receive help with their addictions, Christian mentoring and assistance with social, parenting and work skills. Their children will receive childcare, education and parent/child counseling.

Loveall said she recognizes the importance of the parent/child counseling Teen Challenge provides, as it often teaches mothers to work with their children, discipline them and help them grow emotionally.

"Counseling rebuilds trust and bonds and respect," she said.

"(Teen Challenge's) goal is to really help people succeed," said Paul Meiners, who is organizing a kick-off banquet for the program. "People don't walk out of addictions and life-controlling things without some help."

Because the organization is only in the beginning stages of creating the center, a definite location has not been determined. An ideal place, according to Lowans, would be somewhere between Columbia and Jefferson City so that both communities could benefit from and invest in the center.

Lowans' first goal for the project is to raise $75,000 to hire an on-site facility director, who will then determine the location, funding and other necessary aspects of the project. That $75,000 will also fund an office space for the facility and public relations endeavors.

As Teen Challenge receives no state or federal funding, it must rely completely on donations. So far, $20,000 has been raised for the mid-Missouri center.

Although there is not yet an estimate of when this facility will be open and ready for use, Lowans said he hopes to establish it as quickly as possible.

"Every day that goes by that we don't have (this program), there's another mother who needs its services," he said.

Supervising editor is Celia Darrough.


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