Corey reconnects with life
26 March 2015
“Corey was totally depressed, totally withdrawn. It was even an effort to get him to shower."
"Now first thing in the morning, he jumps in no problem. His whole outlook on life has totally changed. You can see the change in his appearance, in his confidence. He’ll even catch the bus home from work – all stuff that not so long ago he wouldn’t have done.” – Karen (Corey's mother)
A caring and hard-working Mt Druitt mother of five, Karen's life has had its fair share of challenges, yet she has risen above them all to give her family stability.
Karen was left with sole responsibility of raising her family and providing financially for them after the children’s father died in 2008.
It was hard at first, but with her three oldest children having finished school and out of home, and her two youngest at high school, Karen thought her toughest parenting days were behind her. Life was still busy and work tiring, but family life was reasonably stable.
Then her youngest child, Corey, started having behavioural problems.
Karen says: “He was always good at going to school, but then, when he went to high school, it started out well, but he started getting bullied. He was punched, they’d throw his bag up into the tree, throw his books out the window. A group of kids really turned on him.”
Soon, Corey’s personality began to change. He started to withdraw, not only at school, but also at home.
“He would lock himself in the bedroom and we wouldn’t even see him,” Karen says. “It also got to the stage where he wouldn’t go to school – he outrightly refused to go.”
At the time, Karen started work at 5am and could not be there to force the issue.
“I was so frustrated and I didn’t know what to do,” she says.
“That’s when the school got (Salvos Youthlink) Reconnect involved.”
Kerri-Ann Nattrass, Reconnect Adolescent and Family Worker Salvation Army – Youthlink, began to work with Corey and soon referred him to the local Obley Education Centre (which caters for students who are experiencing difficulties in the mainstream school system.)
In partnership with the school, Kerri-Ann and the Reconnect team continued to work with Corey. Over time, he caught up on work he missed at school and he began engaging well with his peers.
Karen laughs and says: “He won’t take a day off school now!
“Starting next year, he’s now enrolled to do Year 11 and 12 in a mainstream high school. He’s no longer shy. He sits out in the lounge-room with us, he talks to us. It has made all the difference for his confidence. He’s also started working at Hungry Jacks.
“I can’t express it, but he’s just so different. Without the help, I really think I don’t like to think it, or say it, but like his father, he could have even taken his own life! He literally did nothing, he spoke to no-one. Now he’s happy and outgoing and really ready to give (mainstream) school another try.
“Thanks to Kerri-Ann and Reconnect, they gave me a brand new son. Whatever they have done, it’s worked!”
By Naomi Singlehurst