I rented Generation Found on Amazon Prime because I couldn’t go to the event. I didn’t know anything about it besides the words “addiction” and “youth in recovery,” yet there were moments I found myself crying tears of joy. The documentary centered around the substance use issues affecting adolescents in Houston, Texas. I was introduced to the concept of a recovery high school. An unfortunate amount of teens who were in treatment centers and then tried to go back to their regular high school ended up using again. To solve this, Archway Academy was created. It is an entire high school made for teens in recovery where they are surrounded by staff that treats them with respect, love and encouragement and peers that understand them and aren’t pressuring them to fall back into using again. They also attend peer support meetings. One of the other problems was that there were very few groups that were just for teens, there were only adult groups. The change of environment, the level of comfort and making friends with teens who really hold each other accountable really seems to help teens stay on the path of long-term recovery, re-discover their worth and/or purpose, and go on to college if they desire to.

The film also highlighted the lack of resources that teens have that come from the inner city. The vast majority of the students from Archway Academy were white, or at least white-passing, and most likely middle class. Not that their struggles are any less valid, but it was evident that there was a divide in who was getting access to this kind of help and who wasn’t. The parents and other community leaders started to realize this and began to initiate a revolution in thought among the other adults. They wanted everyone to understand that the kids aren’t just making bad decisions because they’re young and don’t care. They educated people on how the human brain isn’t fully developed until your mid-twenties, and one thing that is majorly affected is the ability to make sound decisions. A person in recovery that was in his mid-thirties came to talk to a group of students. He had been in jail many times and was also in solitary confinement for five years. He was able to turn his life around after spending all that time in contemplation about where he wanted to end up. It was clear that his story really made an impact on them.

One of the teen girls that was highlighted from Archway Academy had a really rough time before and during her time at the school, but she ended up giving a speech at graduation. The graduation itself had me crying, thinking about my own graduation next year, and about how transformative it was for that class of 2014. Throughout the whole movie, I kept thinking about solutions-oriented thinking and journalism. It would be amazing to see more initiatives like Archway spread across the country.