As lacrosse continues to grow across the country, it has found a new home at Ferris School for Boys in Wilmington, Delaware. The program will be a first for the secure-care, ACA-accredited treatment facility.

The young men that attend Ferris are court-committed and between the ages of 13 to 18. They reside at the facility for an average of 6-12 months each. The majority come from impoverished backgrounds, have been involved in drugs and gangs, and are identified as serious or chronic repeat offenders that pose a risk to themselves or others.

The intensive rehabilitation treatment center provides a structured learning environment integrating education, programming, treatment, and therapeutic clinical programs. Some of this programming includes drug and alcohol treatment, aggression replacement training, victim sensitivity, and more. In addition to these programs, fall and winter sports have been offered and now lacrosse will fill the spring.

“One goal of bringing lacrosse to Ferris is to improve safety for both the youth we serve as well as our staff,” said Dr. Katharine Powers, a licensed clinical psychologist at Ferris. “Historically, numbers of restraints are higher in the spring than other times of the year. Ferris has a fall sport and a winter sport, but not a spring sport. The aim of introducing lacrosse at Ferris is to have a spring sport that will allow large-muscle exercise, that will get the residents out of the building and into the fresh air, and that will ultimately lead to lower numbers of restraints.”

The lacrosse community played a vital role in making the pioneering program happen. State of Delaware personnel, the Delaware Chapter of US Lacrosse, and local coaches, vendors, and donors all stepped up to support this opportunity for the school.

The hope is that the lacrosse program at Ferris will make a great impact on the youth during their treatment time at the facility while also opening the door for opportunities when they leave Ferris.

“Another goal of introducing lacrosse at Ferris is to provide an opportunity for our youth to get involved in a pro-social activity and learn a skill set that can lead to future success,” Powers said. “Most of our residents will return to local area high schools upon their release. We hope that some of our youth fall in love with the game and will find their way onto lacrosse teams when they return to the community, instead of back onto the streets.”

The boys had their first lacrosse introduction at the end of December and are looking forward to the spring season. In addition to playing games against local school programs, Ferris School will be hosting a US Lacrosse/Sankofa Lacrosse Clinic in May. The boys will have the opportunity to learn about lacrosse and life from elite lacrosse clinicians from a variety of backgrounds during a two hour clinic.

Everyday, a ball and a stick are changing someone’s life. The life skills these young men are learning through the sport of lacrosse will help shape their futures beyond the walls of Ferris School for Boys.