John Willson, executive director of SOAR, shares steps to help kids and adults cope

BALSAM, NC, June 27, 2024 /24-7PressRelease/ — ADHD is among the most commonly diagnosed mental conditions, affecting 8.7 million adults and an estimated 6 million kids aged 3 to 17 years. John Willson is the executive director of SOAR, which offers summer camps, a boarding school, and adventure-based gap year programs for youth with ADHD and other learning disabilities. He shares these steps to help kids and adults cope:

1. Embrace the Journey – Being diagnosed with ADHD does not have to be a negative experience. Many people diagnosed with ADHD “report being energetic, creative, courageous, and resilient.” So embrace the journey with an open heart and a willingness to understand yourself better.

2. Educate and Understand – Learn more about ADHD by researching the characteristics, symptoms, and challenges associated with ADHD. This knowledge can help you better navigate your experiences and communicate effectively with others. It is also important to understand that ADHD can look different in each individual and can change as you get older.

3. Build a Support System – Connect with a community that understands your experiences by joining support groups where you can share insights, ask questions, and learn from others who have faced similar challenges. You should also consider discussing your ADHD diagnosis with your friends, family, colleagues, and teachers. Doing so can foster understanding and create a supportive environment. Who knows, maybe one of them has ADHD as well!

4. Seek Professional Guidance – Schedule a follow-up appointment with the healthcare professional who diagnosed you. Discuss treatment options, such as medication, therapy, or a combination of both. While medications such as Adderall are commonly used to treat ADHD, they don’t work for everyone, so it is important to find out what treatment plan works best for you. Be sure to meet with your designated healthcare professional regularly, especially when you’re first starting treatment.

5. Get Outside – Here at SOAR, we believe that spending time outdoors has direct mental and physical benefits for all individuals, but especially for those diagnosed with ADHD. Whether you’re hiking, biking, or just chilling in green spaces, these outdoor activities get your body moving, promoting better attention and helping your brain regulate those ADHD-related neurotransmitters. So, next time you’re feeling restless or overwhelmed, consider heading outdoors for a natural boost that goes beyond just a breath of fresh air.

“At SOAR, we believe that individuals with ADHD possess incredible strengths, creativity, and resilience,” John says. “It’s not about overcoming ADHD; it’s about leveraging your unique qualities to soar beyond expectations.”

Based in the mountains of Western North Carolina, SOAR offers The Academy at SOAR, a year-round boarding school in which students have fun, socialize, and learn amid a natural landscape; and GAP (Gateway Adventure Program), a gap year program for young adults with ADHD and other learning disabilities.

SOAR was founded more than 45 years ago by an adult with learning disabilities who believed that focusing on an individual’s strengths, rather than deficits, was critical in ensuring success. Over the years the nonprofit organization has adapted its programs for the specific needs of youth with ADHD and other learning disabilities.

About: John Willson, MS, LRT/CTRS, is Executive Director for SOAR, the world’s premier adventure program serving youth with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and LD (Learning Disabilities). SOAR’s outdoor adventure-based programs provide academic instruction, experiential education, and life skills development for youth and young adults ages 8-25. SOAR stands for Success-Oriented, Achievements Realized. With a passion for fostering resilience and nurturing strengths in neurodiverse communities, John is a respected advocate among those who serve individuals with learning differences and attention challenges. Learn more at

Online press kit:

For more information or interview requests, contact Executive Publicist Michelle Tennant Nicholson at [email protected] or 828-749-3200.

For the original version of this press release, please visit here