Breaking News
More () »

St. Clair Co. nonprofit helps teens who are victims and witnesses of violence

The licensed clinical counselor saw a need in the community back in 2006 and continues her work through her program.

O'FALLON, Ill. — Dr. Leslie Davis has helped more than 100 teens in the St. Louis area. 

The licensed clinical counselor saw a need in the community back in 2006 and continues her work through her program.

She's based in O'Fallon, Illinois, but helps teens throughout St. Clair County, Madison County and St. Louis.

"I developed a program called Heart Beats, which is a youth violence prevention program and it's for youth 12 to 17," Dr. Davis said.

It's a program under the organization she created called Hearts in Faith, which supports single moms. Dr. Davis is a single mom herself. 

The idea to create Heart Beats was because she felt there was a need. 

Her goal is to now share psychoeducation.

"During that time, the individuals will learn different skills of communication. I help them identify the cycle of violence so they can identify for themselves or someone else, so they can stop that pattern in their life," Dr. Davis said. 

After St. Louis' school shooting, she wants to empower teens.

"That trauma impacts how they think and develop physically and mentally," she said. "If we don't address the trauma early on, it can hurt them in the long run and have PTSD."

The program gives youth a safe space.

"I think it's important for youth to understand that they have a place to go that's safe to talk about their experience. I share they are not alone and they aren't the only ones feeling what they feel," Dr. Davis said. 

She said she knows emotions can be hard to express at times.

She's learned, especially after the pandemic, the struggles teens face. 

"If they watch TikTok videos of violence, if they are seeing fights being posted, that's what they are learning as proper behavior and how to release emotions they are feeling," she said, "If they are in pain, they are learning, go fight or go hit someone, go damage something and that's not the proper way to deal with emotions."

The program was free of charge with funding but unfortunately, that's no longer the case.

She's trying to get more financial support so no one has to pay for services. 

In the meantime, the counselor said she can tailor the cost for each family.

If you are interested:

  • There is a requirement of one parent engagement session
  • An intake assessment
  • Dr. Davis said she will go over communication skills, the five love languages, and address different topics such as empathy
  • Dr. Davis will decide if the teen needs the entire 12-week program or individualized treatment, which can be six weeks

She believes the program can provide tools for now and in the future.

If you'd like to donate, click here

If parents want assistance or therapy services, you can click here to get assistance from Dr. Davis.

Before You Leave, Check This Out