What was a successful pilot summer program has now become a permanent way to expand the reach of our vastly-expanding Mentoring Program.
Mentoring Program Director, Julie Driskill, is now teaching life skills classes at the Clark County Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) in Springfield. Also included in the curriculum is job preparedness guidance by FYI Greenon Mentoring Coordinator Bryan Moore, through a partnership with the non-profit Jobseekers Network.
“I meet weekly with girls who have been recently released but might not be ready to go back into the public school system, so they actually go to school at the center,” Driskill said. “We’re also doing six sessions for boys and six for girls who are locked up."
“This is so important because you’re giving kids a second chance,” she continued. “You’re not just punishing them, you are helping them do better. They are not just sitting around doing their time. You are truly helping to rehabilitate them.”
Driskill is teaching the powerful Path Elements Curriculum, which is also used in the Tecumseh and Greenon in-school mentoring programs.
“It’s a discovery tool where they understand who they are, where they are going and how they are going to get there,” said Driskill. “It helps them make a plan for their life that fits their unique personality. It helps them envision a better life and then take steps to work towards it.”
The job skills portion focuses on an assessment that includes a realistic training on behaviors and choices that would affect future career opportunities and job searches.
“We discuss how big those shoes are to fill, especially with their circumstances of being in the JDC and not attending school,” said Moore. “We don’t want kids to stop dreaming, but they have to be realistic about the choices that they make now and about their futures."
“Their choices will either work for them or against them,” he continued. “The beginning stages of a job search usually include assessments of personality and skills, but not necessarily behavior. Right now, we are focusing on behavior and choices that will allow them to realistically become a doctor and a lawyer. Or will their choices force them into just having a (low-paying) job?”
Jobseekers Network is in the process of creating a curriculum for JDC students that’s for youth who are reaching benchmarks in the Path program and will hopefully be released in November. A future goal is to have a mentor for kids when they come out.
“This opens up a whole new area of impact for FYI,” said Driskill. “It is impacting kids who need it the most and meeting them where they are at. The schools struggle to find time to give this kind of personal, individual attention because of limited staffing, so we are partnering with them on helping these kids.”
The program is receiving rave reviews from the troubled teenagers who are being
helped by it.
“This program has cleared my mind and made me want to make a change,” said one participant in the summer pilot program. Another summer program participant said, “They give some of us hope. I gave up and they brung me back up.”