My Last Post From the USA

Here’s my last post from the USA. Written from New Mexico USA – My trip has come to an end . I am so sad that it’s ended but so excited to come home and share all of the things I’ve learned with HOT.

Mixed feelings are sometimes tricky to deal with but I’ve learned that taking time to let my thoughts calm down and come together helps. If my head feels very jumbled or confused, I’ll try to go for a swim or a walk because both of these help me feel less stressed. I also know that sometimes if I leave my thoughts alone and wait for some time, they sort themselves out a bit – like making coffee in a percolator.

I’ve been thinking about stress a lot while I’ve been away. There is a kind of balance that is important. If we had no stress at all, it wouldn’t be good for us, we would feel bored and unfulfilled. But, if we have too much stress it is bad for us.  We can’t think straight and it affects how we manage things.

If we have lots of stress and trauma when we are developing then it actually affects how our brains develop.  I’ve made a vow to myself to reduce the amount of stress in my life where I can.

Sometimes it’s difficult because things happen that we can’t control e.g. someone we love dies or someone else treats us badly. But there are a lot of things we can do to look after ourselves when things are tough. Check out our website for lots of ideas or email – if you are finding stress difficult to deal with.

So (COMPETITION ALERT) the name of the last agency that I visited is Sandhill.  It’s named after birds, called Sandhill Cranes, that come to the area here in New Mexico, where Sandhill is. It is set in an absolutely beautiful area and is a magical place. 

Here are some photos:

Some of the children and young people that I’ve met on my journey have really inspired me. Some are experiencing very severe mental health issues, some have to deal with conditions like autism, some have experienced trauma and been let down A LOT by people who were supposed to looking after them.

But they work so hard at their treatment plans and really try to make a positive difference in their own and their friends’ lives.  In Sandhill the children and young people asked loads of questions about what it’s like to live and grow up in Scotland.

They asked if young people in Scotland have different issues to them.  I said no – we are all the same really and we all have human issues – young people in Scotland also struggle with their mental health and get treated badly. Young people in Scotland can be just as inspiring.  I asked them what they would tell young people in Scotland about growing up in the USA. They said:

  • It’s fun
  • There are lots of good things to do and places to go (although you have to get someone to drive you because everything is quite far away)
  • There are good places to get help (like Sandhill)
  • There are lots of good places to eat and loads of different types of food
  • It’s different in every area and it’s very big – I agreed with this.

I also found the staff at Sandhill very inspiring, just like at the other places I visited. The Clinical Director Kurt showed me around and took care of me during my visit.  He is a lovely person and we enjoyed talking about books and ideas as we both like to read and think about things.  Now I have a massive list of books that I’d like to read later. Here are pictures of some of the staff at Sandhill:

I feel so lucky to have met so many wonderful people during my trip. I feel like I have learned so much from them. They have made me really think about how to support young people and how we can help ourselves. It can be really difficult if we want to make changes in our behaviour to help us feel better.

We all fall into patterns that can be hard to break. So we might keep going out with people who treat us badly, or we might keep avoiding situations that we find difficult and then feel trapped.

We might always blame other people for things that are really our responsibility, or we take out our bad feelings on other people.

Making a change in our behaviour can really help but we often need help to do this.  I think that what I’ve learned in America is really going to help our team to continue doing the best job we can for our young people.

In New Mexico where Sandhill is, the area and the plants are very different from those in Scotland – check out the photos below:

Check out some of the things that Sandhill had available to help children and young people when they felt stressed:

In the picture below are two things that look a bit strange but the children and young people at Sandhill really liked using them when they felt really stressed.  The thing on the left is a float tank. It is filled with warm saltwater so it’s impossible to sink – I tried it out and it was lovely, very floaty and relaxing.  The thing on the right is a squeeze machine. You lie down inside and it gently squeezes you, helping you to feel all secure and calm.

So that’s it from the USA!  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a wee bit about my adventures. I’ll be writing a report when I’m back and will share it on our website. If you are an adult you can find information about the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust online ( – you could apply and maybe have an adventure of your own!

Oh, by the way, I estimated that by being assertive (see my first travel blog), I have saved myself $50, not done a few things that I didn’t want to do and kept myself out of danger.

Well, good luck if you enter the competition and look out for my next blog with more HOT news (from Scotland next time).