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Recovering from Trauma: One Woman’s Journey

Jewelle, a resident of SCO’s Madonna Heights campus, discusses how she overcame her trauma and learned to establish trust and plan for her future.

Madonna Heights is officially Sanctuary Certified!

The Madonna Heights Group Residence, RTF & School has officially received their Sanctuary re-Certification. It has been a multi-year journey to establish this trauma-informed approach to our organizational structure and change how we do our everyday work throughout our 3 adolescent programs. Starting with the establishment of a steering committee, a kick-off event, developing a core team and training for all staff and students, the process has been embedded within all 3 programs both individually and collectively.

The certification comes from the Sanctuary Institute, recognizing SCO’s Madonna Heights as a Sanctuary Program, in recognition of exceptional leadership in the provision of trauma-informed education, treatment and care. This certification is good for 3 years and the work continues with new leadership stepping up from the core team onto the steering committee and new positions opening up on the core team.

Sanctuary is about creating a safe, compassionate and high-quality trauma informed care for our youth and families; as well as the creation of an organizational culture committed to open communication, non-violence, social responsibility, growth and change, democracy, social learning and emotional intelligence.

We are proud of our entire Sanctuary community, students and staff, who embraced this change and made this possible. A celebration will be planned for the spring.


Sometimes one of the best ways to reach a young woman is through nonverbal communication, at Madonna Heights, we recognize that. We offer an intensive therapeutic art program and New Heights, an adventure course which emphasizes physical activities and group work. It is important that our young women learn to speak up for themselves, which is why we have developed youth leadership and peer mediation programs, which give our girls a sense of advocacy, power and confidence.

We pair each child with their own advocate counselor to ensure they make the most of their experience. We offer individual and group counseling, wellness coaching, substance abuse programs and college and career planning. Perhaps most importantly, we focus on repairing family ties to help our girls make a smooth transition when they are ready to head back home. Just recently, Madonna Heights held its first Family Fun Night to provide a relaxed time for parents to be with their daughters.

Said one parent: “I know that my daughter has a lot of good to share with the world, she just needed some help getting there…and that started with me and you, together as partners. I feel that with your help, her life may have been saved. I am forever grateful.”

Our holistic approach includes trauma-informed care and treatment, helping these young women face their problems with unflinching honesty so that they can first heal and then move on to create a better life for themselves.

“The help I have received and the relationships I have developed made me able to not only trust but to be trustworthy,” said one young woman.

We help


people with special needs develop skills to reach their full potential

4 out of 5

young adults (21+) at our Residential Treatment Center for youth with developmental disabilities participate in Day Habilitation or are enrolled in school

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