When Jahnia, 15, arrived at Youth Villages-Inner Harbour campus, she didn’t want to speak to anyone. At home, she had been hanging out with a tough crowd. Then, she ran away, ending up in a local youth detention center. By the time, she came to campus, Jahnia was defiant, aggressive, and unmotivated.

“All it took was one wrong word for Jahnia to become angry or shut down completely,” said Ann Demian, her Youth Villages therapist. “She had a negative attitude toward everyone, including myself, but I knew there was more to her than that.”

Demian and Jahnia met for individual and family therapy. Due to negative experiences with counselors in the past, Jahnia had trouble trusting the specialist at first.

“Ann was always so positive toward me, and I didn’t know how to react to that,” Jahnia said. “Eventually, I realized she really wanted to help me. Her energy motivated me to do more for myself and for others.”

As their relationship strengthened, Demian helped Jahnia work through her anxiety, depression, and aggressive behavior. Together, they identified positive coping skills for Jahnia’s difficult emotions, like painting, baking, going on walks, and making music in Inner Harbour’s therapeutic drumming program.

“Jahnia loves music and absolutely thrives in the drumming program,” Demian said. “It allows her to express herself creatively, practice impulse control, and engage in teamwork.”

Demian says that her favorite part of working with Jahnia has been watching her discover new passions and allow her personality to shine more each day.

“I have opened up a lot during my time at Youth Villages,” Jahnia said. “Now that I can express my feelings without shutting down or lashing out, I’ve been able to make good friends with peers and with staff.”

“Jahnia is silly, energetic, and brings so much fun to campus,” Demian said. “She has worked hard and made amazing progress. Her aggression is simply nonexistent.”

With Ann’s help, Jahnia has learned to pick her battles and express herself respectfully, both to peers and adults. Even Jahnia’s school performance has improved.

“Before I met Ann, I didn’t even know what anxiety or depression meant,” Jahnia said. “Thanks to Youth Villages, I have learned so much. I feel happier and lighter – like a weight has been lifted.”