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‘It takes a village’: Program at Boys & Girls Club in Hillsboro changing 8-year-old’s life

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    PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) — A program at the Boys & Girls Club of the Portland Metropolitan Area is helping to change lives.

Most afternoons at the Inukai Family Boys & Girls Club in Hillsboro, you’ll find a playful 8-year-old named Matthew Yslas-Burk.

“Me like to play pool with staff,” Yslas-Burk said. “Look how good I am at just practicing.”

Months ago, Yslas-Burk didn’t want to play with anyone at the club.

“Before we got the boys, we knew that Matthew had kind of a past,” Jae Yslas, Matthew’s mother, said. “He’d been in several placements.”

Jae Yslas and her wife adopted Matthew and his little brother. She says Matthew has autism and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. She says they tried programs to help Matthew socialized with other kids, but they didn’t work.

“In public and in settings where Matthew was away from you, like a school setting or something like this, a few years ago, we basically couldn’t do it,” Jae said.

Then in June, they enrolled Matthew at the Boys & Girls Club.

“And there are lots of kids like Matthew here,” Jae said. “He’s not the only one. And they kind of individualize for each kid here, what they need.”

The one-on-one attention is part of what’s called trauma-informed care. Staff members are trained to spot when a child has gone through a severe situation. Whether a child is withdrawing, acting out, or behaving in another way that makes a staff member take notice, they know how to work closely with that child and their family.

With trauma-informed care, there is a method called taking a time-in, or at the Inukai Family Boys & Girls Club, they call it “taking a break”.

Fox example, if a child is having a moment of difficulty, they can come into a separate room with an adult they trust, and instead of being isolated, they have a place and the time to breathe and recoup before going back out.

The idea to include trauma-informed care started at the Inukai Family Boys & Girls Club in 2014.

When Rachel Schutz, a trauma informed specialist at the Boys & Girls Club of the Portland Metropolitan Area, was head of youth and family services at the Inukai Family Boys & Girls Club, she says she saw a way for the club to go beyond being just an afterschool program.

“It’s showing somebody that you care and never giving up on them,” Schutz said. “No matter what. And that’s what every child deserves.”

Matthew’s mom says her son has come out of his shell in a matter of months. She says she’s grateful for how he has grown and for how he’s part of a program that will continue to help him.

“He’s much more in touch with his emotional feelings, and sometimes that’s hard,” Jae said. “Autism is a diagnosis where sometimes you don’t know how to process all of it. This is cliché, but it does take a village to raise a child.”

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