NFI North, in Bradford, receives donation from Lake Sunapee Snowmobile Club.
All I knew about NFI was that it was a "place for bad boys." On
Dec. 21, I went with Tim Gove, LSSC Trails Master, to deliver new Carhartt hats and gloves for all the boys
staying at the NFI facility.
Family Service Worker, Fran Lesnick, gave us a tour and explained that the boys are from all over the state. Many are from abusive or neglected homes while others won't go to school and are unmanageable. The average stay is about three weeks, although in some
circumstances that could extend to 60 days. I expected to find the boys housed in barracks but was surprised to find single rooms
and a couple instances where boys do better in shared rooms.
Fran talked about policies and guidelines and how the boys are taught the importance of cleaning up and taking care of their space. The program operates on a point system with points awarded for chores, trying hard, group participation, cleanliness and more. Boys who earn the highest points may get better chores or a chance to go skiing or rock climbing, usually provided through donations.
Meal preparation or cooking is a favorite of many. Sometimes they have cook-offs which give the boys an opportunity to show their expertise with food. Fran said the boys are very willing to experiment with flavors and these times are enjoyed by all. Boys also go out in the community, under staff supervision, to help those in need such as shoveling snow, while others help a local toy maker.
The NFI School offers a safe, structured living environment with programs designed to give the boys tools for coping with life. Besides kitchen, dining, bedrooms, conference room and offices, there's a health clinic, five bathrooms, and a large recreation room.
The boys participate in various groups such as anger management sessions, lessons in health, drug and alcohol programs, etc. There are even peer groups in which boys relate stories of their experiences and offer advice to each other. Most of all, they are taught about making correct choices, and that every day is a new opportunity to succeed.
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