Teen Poetry Collections

What is Child Study and Treatment Center (CSTC) and who is there? CSTC is a long-term residential psychiatric treatment center that serves children and adolescents, 5 to 17 years of age, from across the State of Washington. Children come to our program because, for a variety of psychological, social, and/or neurobiologic problems, they have not been able to function safely in their homes and communities. All of CSTC's forty-seven residents come to us with severe emotional and behavioral difficulties. Many have threatened their own lives or the well-being of others. Most have had their own lives threatened by the abusiveness of others. Their struggles have often led them from placement to placement and finally to our program.

The children and teenagers stay at CSTC for extended lengths of time, several months or more, as they prepare for life in their home communities. Teams of teachers, counselors, nurses, psychiatrists, recreation therapists, psychologists, and social workers offer help and treatment. The residents in our program live in cottages (Camano, Ketron, and Orcas Cottages) that are, at once, homes and crisis zones, refuges and exiles, places for play and for painful work. I am tempted to try to tell you each one's challenging life story, but know that they must tell it better with their own words in the pages that follow.

One of the therapeutic goals is to help teach these young people to safely express themselves about personal battles and life experiences. The poems they have produced are courageous, and a tribute to the resiliency of human spirit. I want to thank all of the kids for their creative offerings, and hope that they gather peace and confidence from their work. I also want to thank the parents, grandparents, guardians, counselors, and community providers for their vigilance and support. The stories told in these poems are for the world to know who is at CSTC and how they are finding their way home. They teach us about love and loss, hope and fear, loneliness and youthful connection, determination and spiritual resolve.

I particularly want to thank Richard Gold for his commitment and support to each of these young writers. It is painful and inspiring to realize that we would not be gazing in this way upon our CSTC kids, in the humane light of their poetry, were it not for Richard Gold's gentle though steadfast efforts in the last year to bring us this poetry project. Our staff and youth were enlivened by the writing sessions and individual mentoring Richard provided. I am eager to see where this can take us.


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