Motivator encourages Custer students to overcome adversity
Published: Thursday, October 27th, 2011
While teenagers may often feel they have no one to talk to, that surely is not the case. Chelle Sorensen-Schefeik, a chemical dependency counselor with Lifeways at Central High School, wants that idea among high school students to change.
In her job, Sorensen-Schefeik provides prevention, intervention and counseling services to students at Central High School. She also gives motivational speeches across the Black Hills — something she has done for over 10 years.
Many students come to Sorensen-Schefeik with questions or issues about personal use, dependency or abuse of substances. She also gives support to students who are children of alcoholics or children of substance abusing parents. Some of her students come voluntarily, while others have been court-ordered or referred from administrators and parents.
Sorensen-Schefeik spoke to Custer High School students on Native American Day, encouraging them to overcome adversity, build their self-esteem, stop bullying and to be positive sources of support for those around them in hopes of creating environmental change.
“It was very motivating and inspiring,” Custer High School principal Paul Anderson said. “She made it very clear to everyone that each of us has control of our own destiny and that it is a choice we all make, regardless of life’s circumstances.”
Sorensen-Schefeik became a chemical dependency counselor because she grew up surrounded by addiction. Sorensen-Schefeik has a birth defect to both her arms and to many of her internal organs.
“I wanted to help people avoid that path,” she said. “Or if they are already on that path, I want to help reduce further harm and help facilitate recovery.”
Before this job, Sorensen-Schefeik worked in Nebraska as a dual diagnosis programmer for clients with mental health and substance abuse. For the first six years, Sorensen-Schefeik mainly worked with adults before working with adolescents with addiction.
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