Written by Douglas Edwin
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 00:00
Photo by Douglas Edwin
Moving Forward is a program that was started with the main goal of keeping teens 12-17 that have been arrested or committed crimes off the streets and around positive influences.
The program goes from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, for 12 weeks. It has 20 teens enrolled, most of whom go everyday. Each day is structured into different activities that range from community service to swimming.
Most days involve some type of community or volunteer service, such as working in the community garden, cleaning play grounds, and cleaning around their building. Following the work, the teens will have a meal that is provided by the program, then do some sort of leisure activity like golf, bowling, fishing, or swimming.
The purpose of structuring the day with work first is to have the teens realize you have to put in work for rewards.
The program also aims to teach the teens how to better deal with problems so they can stay out of trouble in the future as well.
Many of the teens in the program have anger issues, so some days the teens spend time working on Anger Management booklets that help them recognize their internal and external triggers of aggression, and give them techniques to help them control their anger better.
Nick Sanchez, the program director and creator, believes the structure offered by the program is a key component of keeping the teens out of trouble.
“I’ve walked into some of their houses that have 8 people living in a two bedroom home, how do you gain control in a house like that?” Sanchez said. “You can’t. So the parents push out the kids that don’t need to be taken care of, and those kids are left to manage their own way of living on the street, which is where they are getting in trouble. They need somewhere to be and something to do, which is what we offer.”
Giving the teens some consistency in their lives and positive role models is also crucial to Sanchez and the rest of the staff.
“A lot of these kids I’ve seen jump from house to house, they just have to pack up and go, and its either because mom or dad has been incarcerated, or are unable to take care of them, and that's really messing up their home life,” he said.
When asked what the most important thing to do for the teens was, staff member Angelique Racki responded, “Cultivate their passions. Find what makes them special and important and let them know. Tell them what makes them different from everyone else. Letting them know they’re unique and not like everybody else makes it easier for them be there own person and not give into what what others around them may be doing.”
The program is new this summer, but the staff is hoping to find funding to do the program again during the school year.
While Moving Forward only started in June, it has been extremely effective. None of the teens enrolled in the program have been arrested or been in trouble with the law since its start. The members of the staff have all noticed many positive changes in attitude and demeanor as well, as the teens begin to implement lessons taught through the program in their daily life.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 August 2013 13:48