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Wilder Heath

Atlantic Street Center’s CoRe Gaming Group is an innovative mental health project tailored to increase the number of youth accessing services by using video games as a therapeutic tool to help teach interpersonal skills, reduce stress, and stimulate emotional regulation. Since ASC is a community-based agency, therapists bring a mobile gaming center to the participants each session and combine evidenced-based therapy (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) with gaming to help youth accomplish their interpersonal and academic goals. In 2017, CoRe served over 100 youth. The majority of CoRe participants were low-income male youth of color who lacked a strong and positive male role-model in their life. This demographic is, statistically, most at risk of dropping out of school, joining gangs, using drugs or alcohol, and/or becoming incarcerated. CoRe increases protective factors by opening the door for youth to feel safe asking for help and teaching skills focused on reducing isolation and increasing mindful decision-making.

With Child’s Play’s generous and unprecedented support to ASC- CoRe Project, we were able to hire and train new clinicians and staff to run and assist with our groups, which has helped us provide more expansive, personalized, targeted, and in-depth services to the community. The grant also allowed us to purchase 20 powerful gaming laptops and a large catalog of games to effectively match each game to the lesson plan. It has been an asset for CoRe participants to have access to their own mobile gaming center each session and be able to play video games while acquiring important life skills and making new and positive friends. We are grateful for their contribution and look forward to continuing this unique and powerful program.

Wilder Heath LMFT, MHP, CMHS

CoRe Project Lead/Mental Health Therapist

Atlantic Street Center