Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Meet Justus Brown

You know those kids who everyone complains about, who no one understands and no one seems to know how to handle? Eleven-year-old Justus Brown was one of those kids. He was so angry that he threw furniture, started fights and even spit on people – and that was just at school. When you meet Justus today, you would never guess that he was one of those kids. He most likely owes it to his grandmother, Marilynn Brown, and the caring staff at the Broken Arrow Boys and Girls Club, particularly Program Director Jonathan Mullins. 

We were in the recreation room at the BA Boys & Girls Club where Justus is a member. Marilynn told me a little about Justus’ difficult life and mentioned that he fought and hit her for several months after she began taking care of him.  Marilynn said he was very disruptive in school and could not concentrate. The school suggested putting him in Shadow Mountain when he was in the third grade. Shadow Mountain is a psychiatric hospital for troubled kids.  No one knew what to do with him because he was so aggressive.  Justus lived there for 14 months. 

Marilynn said Justus is very aggressive in everything he does.  Upon hearing this comment, Justus looked up from the Ms. PacMan game which he was trying to win and shouted out “I’m not aggressive, I’m just competitive." We all had a good laugh.

Two years ago Justus and Jonathan were thrown together in a class for emotionally disturbed children. Justus was in the class and Jonathan worked as a behavioral tech there. Then the summer of 2011, Jonathan went to work as a counselor at the Broken Arrow Boys & Girls Club’s Summer Day Camp. Marilynn enrolled Justus in the program but because of his aggressive outbreaks, he wasn't able to complete the summer program. Things have changed though because this summer, he made it to the last day of Summer Camp and is now continuing to enjoy the after-school program at the BA Club.

Jonathan and Athletic Director Dustin Blackmon help Justus manage his anger before he gets out of control. Dustin coaches Justus’ Flag Football team and does the kind of horsing around with Justus that boys usually enjoy with their dads or brothers. Dustin said.

"By the end of the season Justus was quarterbacking his team to the championship and showing great sportsmanship with all his team mates especially the young girl on his team."

“Jonathan, Dustin and the club give Justus the companionship he has so desperately needed. He would be very lonely without them," Marilynn said.  She also gives high marks to club director Janis Fraley, who teaches Justus karate. "The club is teaching him to get along with other people, to respect his elders and be respectable himself." I don't think we can ask for more than that!


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