Christmas Shopping as Clinical Assignment

Celebrating Holidays at Turning Winds Teen Treatment Center

Family holidays are important—for kids and parents. Thanksgiving and Christmas are traditional opportunities to come together once a year and enjoy a meal as a family. Mental health issues and substance misuse can seriously disrupt this tradition. 

When your child needs help, such family events may need to wait. If your child needs treatment to get better, that should be the priority. Many residential treatment programs are not set up for long-term care but Turning Winds is different. Here, teenage clients stay long enough to achieve lasting change. In many cases that means, they won’t be home for the holidays.

“In the summer they get to enjoy fireworks for the Fourth of July and we had pumpkin carving for Halloween,” says program director Enoch Stump. “Holidays at Turning Winds are opportunities to have a unique day for the kids. We even make a big deal for minor holidays just to make it more fun.”

Holiday Celebration for Teens in Treatment

“For Christmas, the boys and the girls have a Christmas tree competition,” says chief operations officer Carl Baisden. “The male clients live in one house here and the girls in another and for Christmas the two houses go out to cut trees and then the two teams each decorate their trees. Then all the staff and kids vote on who got the best tree.”

There will be some cool surprises for the winners. Turning Winds organizes such holiday activities for our clients because it’s not always easy for them to be away from home over Christmas.

“Before treatment, many kids wanted to be away from their parents who often tell me that family holidays used to be miserable, says Baisden. “I think that one of the best gifts we can give the kids is the realization that they want to be with their family for Christmas and many of them haven’t felt like that for quite a while.”

Our adolescent clients learn that Christmas is not about getting stuff but about cherishing relationships. 

Reviving Family Connections During the Holidays

Every year we do a “Secret Santa” gift exchange. “So far, that involved drawing names, and then the parents would send the gifts. But parents can make strange selections and it often meant kids got somewhat impersonal gifts, a pair of socks, a journal, and the like.”

This year, the Turning Winds team is trying something a little different. “They’re still drawing names from a hat but then the kids will get a small shopping budget to select the gifts themselves,” explains Baisden. “They go online and do Christmas shopping as a clinical assignment! The kids are going to buy something for their Secret Santa person with an opportunity to be thoughtful and consider what that person likes, what they value, and appreciate. Those are things that many of our clients are not used to doing.”

Baisden is glad they will have this opportunity to be intentional and purposeful, picking something meaningful for their friends. “It’s a great time of the year,” he says. “They came from a place of selfishness and now they get to reconnect with ideals and most importantly, with people. I often hear from our kids that the Turning Winds Christmas was the best they had in a long time.” 

At Turning Winds, it’s the people who make the difference—staff, and patients. We have built a team of some of the world’s finest academic, therapeutic, and medical professionals, all of whom share the same goal: to help teens re-engage meaningfully with their lives, families, and their futures.

Contact us online for more information, or call us at 800-845-1380. If your call isn’t answered personally, one of us will get back to you as soon as possible.


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John Baisden, Jr

John Baisden, Jr

John Baisden Jr is the father of seven inspiring children, and he is married to Kara, the love of his life. Together they have created a family-centered legacy by leading the way with early childhood educational advancement. John loves to write and is an author of a children’s book, An Unlikely Journey and plans to publish additional books. Show More

John is a visionary in his work and applies “outside-the-box” approaches to business practice and people development. He is the Founder of Turning Winds, along with several other organizations. He has extensive experience launching and developing organizations. His skills include strategic planning, promoting meaningful leader-member movement, organizational change, effective communication, project management, financial oversight and analysis, digital marketing and content creation, and implementing innovative ideas through influential leadership. As a leader, John seeks to empower others and brand success through collaborative work. His vision is to lead with courage, grit, truth, justice, humility, and integrity while emphasizing relational influence rather than focusing on the sheens of titles, positions, or things.

Finally, John is passionate about life and promoting equity among those who are often overlooked because of differences that frequently clash with the “norm.” He lives in Southern Idaho and loves the outdoors and the life lessons that can be learned in such an informal environment.

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