NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Barry Robinson Center and its campus of brick buildings has been around for nearly 90 years in Norfolk, but it doesn’t want to rely on tradition when it comes to reaching young people dealing with addiction.

“Working with adolescents, you’ve got to meet them where they are,” said Rob McCartney, the center’s chief executive officer.

McCartney says Barry Robinson has moved away from 12 steps and toward a model called Seven Challenges.

The center is keeping its residential services, but has now added an Intensive Outpatient Program.
It includes three after-school sessions a week, with each session lasting three hours. Kids get to live at home during the 12-week program.

“The reaction that I’m seeing from kids is amazing,” said Jennifer Stolpe, lead counselor for the IOP.   “We start off by saying, ‘what do you like about using? Let’s figure it out.'”

Stolte says she needs to be strategic and non-judgmental when she asks kids why they use alcohol or drugs.

“The key is not to react, not im my face, not in the words, just listen. These kids will tell you everything you need to hear if you just listen.”

“I wish that (the new program) would have been around when Caitlyn was struggling,” said Carolyn Weems of Virginia Beach, who lost her daughter Caitlyn to opioid addiction. She toured the Barry Robinson Center last week.

“I think it is something that could definitely have benefited her and our family.”

Diana Mitchell also lost her daughter Brooke to an opioid overdose. She says the new program makes it easier for families to get help.

“I don’t think parents need to be afraid. If there’s issues in the home with your children, they’re here. Come get help. Because if not, you’ll be dealing with far worse problems”

“I want the community to be aware that we’re here,” Stolpe said. “We’re eager to take as many kids as necessary.”