Javier had been teased for years.  “Because of that,” he explains, “I hated going to school.  I developed a problem with depression and anxiety that goes back to the fifth grade.  I was enrolled at a big high school in Manhattan, but I had anxiety about being in such a large environment, so I just stopped going.  I was an emotional eater – I was always grabbing Hostess cakes and cookies.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and I didn’t care.”

For several years, things were very confusing for Javier.  “I didn’t really understand how I felt,” he explains.  “I just knew that I didn’t want to be in school, so I kept finding excuses not to go to class.  My grades were terrible because I was always absent.  For a while, I was in and out of hospitals and taking medications.  After two years of high school, I only had one credit.”

Javier’s mother was looking for a way to provide her son with structure and direction, so she decided to place him at the Leake & Watts Residential Treatment Center.  At Leake & Watts, Javier received the support that Javier needed to get his life back on track.  “Talking about how I felt with my therapist and the staff here at Leake & Watts helped me understand my depression and anxiety,” he says.  “I feel comfortable because I know everyone here is going through something.  I don’t feel like I have to be nervous and hide what I feel.  If I need to talk to someone, the staff and my teachers will always listen.”

Because of the support that he received at the Residential Treatment Center and the Biondi School, Javier has now graduated.  “After being here only a year, I had earned six credits and passed five of my Regents Exams.  I got on track to graduate, and now I've made it.  I can't really believe it because after my low grades, I wasn’t expecting to graduate so soon!”

Javier has been successful in other ways as well.  He became more comfortable with his peers, gets along with all the residents and even counts one or two as close friends.  He also dramatically changed his eating and exercise habits.  He participated in the Residential Treatment Center Wellness Program and works out at the local YMCA.  “I was over 400 pounds when I came to the Residential Treatment Center, and I’ve officially lost over 100 pounds,” he says with a grin.  “I’m definitely not the same person as when I came here a year and a half ago.  When I look back at that person, I wish I had been stronger, but coming here was a good decision because it woke me up.”