To the casual observer, the piece of poster board decorated with magazine cutouts might be just another art project.
But to Oxbow students, these are “vision boards,” tangible reminders of their personal mission statements. It is a picture of what they hope to achieve in the future.
“The vision board serves two purposes,” says Executive Director Shawn Brooks. “It helps the student who is struggling to have a visual representation of his mission statement and it helps him believe in what he is saying.”
These vision boards are also helping therapists and staff tune in to what a boy is really feeling.
“In his mission statement we might have a boy who talks about being a loving family member but there are no pictures of his family on his vision board,” Shawn explains.
“There’s a conflict there. He stands up and says it but he’s not visualizing himself as part of that family. You start to get quite a bit more insight on how a boy is thinking.”
He says students who have internalized their mission statements and are sincere about them have been excited about creating their vision boards.
Boys who are just “going through the motions” with their mission statements are finding the vision boards a much tougher assignment.
That, too, has a therapeutic benefit, Shawn says. Some boys begin to re-examine their mission statements, changing them to reflect ideas they truly believe.
Each boy hangs his vision board near his bed and is required to spend about 30 seconds looking at it right after waking each morning.
In addition, the boys must bring their vision boards to their phase review. They must explain their board and the meaning of the pictures they selected.
“No one completes the next phase until the vision board is completed,” Shawn says.
He adds, “Therapeutically, we’re always looking for a multi-dimensional approach. We’re hoping if the boys can visualize it they can believe it.”