By: Tom Duggan – August, 2008
James Desrosiers does not like to talk about his troubled childhood growing up in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, but mentions that he had lacked any goals and had no real direction in school.
At 17 years old, Desrosiers joined the military and was ordered to run two miles. “Two miles?” he thought to himself, “I can’t even run one mile.” But much to his surprise and delight, he ran one mile and then ran the second. It was then that Desrosiers had his “Aha!” moment.
It is that “Aha!” moment that Desrosiers shares with children in the classroom, at the YMCA and elsewhere across the Commonwealth. He shows them they too can have that “Aha!” moment where they realize that they can do something they thought was unachievable.
Seven years ago, Desrosiers wrote the book Young People’s Guide to Goal Setting. and has been speaking and teaching youngsters about time management, self-motivation, and achieving goals through his Goal Management Curriculum. The curriculum uses his book as part of a six-week course. So far, he has distributed over 18,000 copies.
Desrosiers has paired up with Bob Ansin of Monarch on the Merrimack, to bring the program to Lawrence and now he is in Lawrence piloting his Goal Setting program through the “Goal Setting Institute for Youth.” The Institute is presently on Island Avenue and he recently received 501(c)3, non-profit status. Desrosiers has been working with Notre Dame Academy, Espiranza Academy, the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club, South Lawrence East School, Community Day Care and the Department of Youth Services, to help kids set and achieve their goals.
The Department of Education is also involved, tracking the progress of the students who have gone through the six-week program. There is also a bill pending at the State House to include the Goal Setting Guide and program as part of the health curriculum in all middle schools across the Commonwealth. The program will be a six-week course taught once a week in sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Senator Robert Antonioni, Chair of the Joint Education Committee, sponsored the bill.
After reviewing Desrosiers’ material, Antonioni stated, “I strongly agree that the skills you offer through this program are important and that our students will benefit greatly from learning how to set and achieve their goals and dreams. I see great potential for a curriculum like the Young People’s Guide to Goal Setting in our schools.”
Desrosiers expects to present his work before the Joint Education Committee this fall, along with fellow Board members Bob Ansin and Channel 5 anchorwoman, Susan Wornick. Desrosiers is very optimistic that his program will become a mandatory part of the middle school curriculum.
The Goal Setting Institute for Youth was created by James Desrosiers and Bob Ansin to “teach young people how to succeed and realize more of their potential.” The mission of the Institute is “to provide critical success skills including goal setting, time management, and self-motivation to people as part of their early foundational development as human beings.” According to the website, “The overall concept is to provide future generations with the curriculum, tools and concepts necessary to promote the success and advancement of young people in today’s society.”
Ansin invested in the program saying that he witnessed first hand its success. He says, “The program empowers young people to stay on path. It gives students a purpose to stay in school and makes them want to succeed.” He has seen students make goal setting a habit and, along with immediate results, that is a “really good return on my investment.” Ansin says that the program is saving kids and kids want to succeed.
The curriculum can be taught by a teacher or on the internet. Desrosiers’ goal is “for every middle school student or age equivalent to get an ID and password and go on the web and start setting goal.”
He wants every child to have the skills of the Goal Setting Institute and says that he is not waiting for the bill to be ratified. “I will continue to implement and teach the program on a voluntary basis while working at the State House to help make the program become a part of the school curriculum.” he says.
“All kids need to be taught how to achieve goals and how to succeed,” says Desrosiers. “They need to stop being told that they are stupid, but that they can succeed. My Goal Setting Institute provides the tools to teach children how to set goals and how to attain those goals.”
One place in which Ansin witnessed firsthand the success of the program was at the YMCA. Desrosiers approached YMCA director David Perez, who agreed to allow the curriculum to be taught to the Lawrence High School JV and Varsity Basketball team. There were 34 boys in total who worked with Desrosiers, each setting their own individual goals. “The program began before mid-terms and the boys that set goals for passing their mid-terms, all got A’s and B’s.” says Perez. Other teammates set goals for playing better basketball. “Before the Goal Setting Program began, the team had lost three games in a row, after Desrosiers completed the six week program, the boys made it all the way to the championship.” say Perez.
“The boys set goals related to grades, for better relationships, family goals or goals that were sports-oriented. But each boy set a goal and each met his goal.” When asked how the boys were doing now, Perez happily reported that the three seniors all graduated and are now enrolled in college. Perez said that the Goal Setting Program was so successful that the YMCA has recently applied for a grant to include the Program be taught to 200 of the YMCA kids.
Desrosiers has also worked with Commissioner Jane Tewksbury of the Department of Youth Services. Desrosiers taught 13 incarcerated kids the six-week program. “The first week was mandatory that each of the 13 kids attend, but the rest of the weeks were voluntary,” recalls Desrosiers. “After the first week, though, all the 13 kids returned and completed the six-week program. DYS saw immediate results. Kids were off drugs, out of gangs and several enrolled back in school, while others got jobs.”
DYS plans to continue working with Desrosiers and he expect to teach 2,500 incarcerated kids.
Desrosiers sees his Institute as teaching living skills. He wants private businesses to get involved and sees banks teaching students how to balance checkbooks to teaching about the stock market. “Kids live to the standard, rather than to their potential. We need to surround kids with excellence and goal achievement. Surrounding kids with a support and belief system, they will develop new permanent habits and a new belief system,” concluded Desrosiers.
To learn more about the Goal Setting Institute for Youth or to contact James Desrosiers, go to www.growthco.com or call (978) 272-1011.