WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — It was tears and cheers in an Ohio County courtroom as one woman, with her baby girl in mind, graduated Wednesday from Family Treatment Court.
Everyone from the judge who was there since day one to West Virginia’s Chief Supreme Court Justice congratulated her.
Teonka Wilson just graduated from a year-long program; one that helps parents facing addiction.
In this fight to recover from substance use, there have been highs and there have been lows.
Today was definitely a high. Getting the visits started was definitely a high. When she came home three months ago. The lows would definitely be in the beginning when she was taken and I had to be away from her. I would say some other lows were definitely when I had a visit with her and they had to take her back. That would be the hardest part, just having to say goodbye to my own baby.Teonka Wilson, Family Treatment Court Graduate
More than the certificate of completion, it was her daughter that was her goal. And now holding Teonka’s little one, Judge David Sims understands why she fought so hard to heal.
When Teonka came in the program, she was in a very bad spot. Now, she’s amazing. She has a job, an apartment, her child reunited. It couldn’t be a better outcome.Judge David Sims, Ohio County Circuit Court
This graduation caught the attention of some powerful people in our state. West Virginia’s Chief Supreme Court Justice told the room full of coaches and participants that all eyes are on Teonka.
She’s got a long road ahead. She’s got a beautiful young child that she is responsible for. This program is working and we’re supporting her, we’re supporting the entire team here, and Judge Sims in his leadership.Chief Justice Evan Jenkins, West Virginia Supreme Court
“This is just the beginning of forever and I have much more great things coming,” said Teonka. “And to those who may be watching and looking for help, people come to the treatment program. This place changed my life.”
The program started a little over two years ago and Teonka marks the sixth graduate.
In Judge Sims’ nine years of circuit court, he says treating addiction instead of incarceration is seeing strides.
“They can go do time in jail, come out, and have the same addiction problems they had when they went in. By addressing the addiction problems, we can get them healthy and help them find apartments, jobs and they become productive members of society again. So, we treat it as a health problem instead of a criminal problem.”Judge David Sims, Ohio County Circuit Court
Recovery is not easy, but when Teonka now hugs her baby girl she says, “It makes it all worth it. It lets me know that I can keep going.”
The judge says they have seven more participants in the program who are progressing, so expect more graduates in the future.