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Excell Center transitions troubled boys into upstanding adults
Excell Center photo
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As a young child, leaving hand imprints in freshly laid cement in front of a new house is just a fun activity for most. But boys at the Excell Center in Turlock experience a great deal of accomplishment and success as they leave their hand imprints at the center to celebrate their graduation from the program.

“These kids come from chaotic backgrounds,” said Chris Essary, Excell program director. “The important things are the little successes.”

Currently, 52 boys from the age of nine to 17 occupy the 11-acre facility located on the outskirts of Turlock providing them with a residential treatment program that runs about six months to a year to help the boys’ transition into the use of better behavioral skills.

Boys come from over 35 counties statewide with a background in breaking the law, mental disabilities or behavioral issues, Essary said.

Each boy goes through a four level system before they can graduate from the program, said Racquel Barker, administrator of the Excell Center.

The first level is orientation where each boy gets familiar with the program that usually lasts around two weeks. The second level is the initial treatment phase where an individual plan is implemented. Each plan differs, depending on what the behavioral problems of the boy are and it usually lasts around a month. The third level is the treatment phase where the core treatment begins and the main progress of the behavioral issues starts to show. This level lasts around six weeks. The last level is the relapse prevention and transition development, it lasts about one month.

The total time to get through all levels is around four months, but most boys don’t hit the minimum requirements for each level and fly through the program, Barker said. It takes about six months to a year depending on the progress of each boy.

During that time they are taught four core values — respect, integrity, courage and hope.

The respect they learn is rare to find in today’s world. The core family traditions and manners that are encouraged at the center include things such as standing to greet someone when they walk into the room.

There have been many success stories from the troubled young boys coming from a chaotic background to pushing on through college or fighting for the United States of America to starting their own family. Some have even turned full circle and given back to the community as a counselor to help troubled teens.

“The biggest success story comes from a boy who served in Iraq,” Essary said with tears in his eyes.

Essary related the story of Ralph, a boy who went through the program at Excell and then went on to serve in the war in Iraq and received a Purple Heart. He now has a beautiful family.

Some of the biggest success stories are just having a home for the boys to go home to after graduation from the program.

One of their main goals at Excell is to return the boys back home better than when they arrived and at times that is difficult because the boys don’t have homes to return to, Essary said.

“No one is willing to take in teens,” he said. “Most want younger kids.”

Aspiranet, who partners with the Excell Center, is a nonprofit organization that places foster children into a family oriented foster home. They are currently searching for loving homes for teens and sibling sets in the Turlock area.

Families interested in being foster parents for a teenager in the local area can call Aspiranet at 669-2577 for more information.   

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.