Artists Offer Positive Youth Development, Mentoring in Snohomish County

by Susan Richardson

I believe all young people can succeed.

The professionals, community members and other caring adults in Snohomish County, Washington agree.

Annie Mulligan and other generous artists in Snohomish County are mentoring young photographers through a program called Promising Artists in Recovery (PAIR), modeled after Reclaiming Futures. The PAIR program connects teens in the county’s juvenile justice system with local artists. This powerful work introduces young people, like Ayrton Clements, to mentors along the road to success. Ayrton’s photography appears at right.

The second installment of this three-part series in was featured July 16, 2012 in The Herald of Everett, Wash.

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Positive Youth Development: Youth Lead Change in Chicago Schools

by Voices of Youth in Chicago Education

[About a month ago we published a post titled, School-to-Prison Pipeline: Chicago Youth Calling for a Dollars and Sense Policy, in which a guest columnist wrote about a group of Chicago high school students who had organized to protest against zero tolerance discipline policies. Their report, Failed Policies, Broken Futures: the True Cost of Zero Tolerance in Chicago, got a lot of attention in the media, including a story by NPR. –Ed.]

juvenile-justice-system_cover-of-failed-policies-broken-futures-reportVoices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) is a youth-led collaborative  made up of seven community organizations and eight high schools across the city of Chicago working to lower the dropout rate and increase college readiness in our schools. As youth leaders with Logan Square Neighborhood Association (one of the organizations involved in VOYCE), we want to share what being youth leaders in our school and community has meant to us. Being part of VOYCE has brought many changes in our lives, in our school, and in our community.

One question that adults sometimes ask is, “How do you get youth involved?” In our experience, there is a big difference between attending your first meeting and actually staying involved and becoming a youth leader. Many of us get involved because we are struggling in school and want to find a way to improve, or, simply because we have friends who are in VOYCE.

But we stay because we feel like we are a part of something important.

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Dr. Jeffrey Butts on Positive Youth Development in Juvenile Justice (Video Interview)

by Benjamin Chambers

Positive youth development is a key part of Reclaiming Futures. But what the heck is "positive youth development?" According to juvenile justice researcher Dr. Jeffrey Butts, it blends what we know about adolescent development and what we know about effective services.

But don’t take it from me — here’s a brief interview on the subject that I did with Dr. Butts at the Reclaiming Futures Leadership Institute held in Miami in May:


Bonus: here’s how to implement positive youth development in the juvenile justice system.


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Positive Youth Development: Poetry in the Classroom and a Teen Poem about Skipping School

by Benjamin Chambers

positive-youth-development_youth-in-classroom[The following post is reprinted with permission from the Pongo Teen Writing website, run by Richard Gold.

It consists of three poems from the students in Leslie Schicht’s class at Global Connections High School in SeaTac, Washington, and an email from Melissa Struyk, who interned with Ms. Schicht this year. Struyk and Schicht used the Pongo web site to teach a poetry unit for ninth graders, which resulted in the teachers deepening their knowledge of the students, and the students deepening their connections to one another.

I have republished it here because one of the poems the students voted to submit, "Skipping School," is particularly relevant for youth in the justice system, and because Pongo’s writing exercises are well-suited not just for mainstream classrooms, but for working with youth in trouble with the law or struggling with drugs and alcohol. See Gold’s post, "Poetry as Treatment for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System." -Ed.]

Here’s the first of three poems the students voted to submit to a contest through Pongo Teen Writing:

Skipping School 
by JE 

I come to school and start 
I see the cops and I start 
The principal came out and started 
I was running so fast that I started 
I was so scared that I stopped 
I can do nothing to 
      Fix it.
But I still have to 
      Mix it.
Now look at me and tell me what you 
A young boy coming out of the streets trying to be something you can’t 
This is me, and I’m not trying to be what you can’t see.

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Karen Pittman on Positive Youth Development and Teens in the Juvenile Justice System (Video)

by Benjamin Chambers

Background: On May 18 and 19, 2011, Reclaiming Futures hosted its biannual Leadership Institute for its participating sites. Held in Miami, the Institute featured presentations from leaders in the fields of youth work and juvenile justice. 

About This Video: On May 18, 2011, Karen Pittman, a national leader in youth development work, gave a one-hour presentation on positive youth development—what it is, what it means, and how it can help communities make better decisions about their young people, including those in the juvenile justice system.  It was broadcast live and then posted as an archived video. 


Part two — about the last three minutes of Karen’s speech — is below the break:

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Positive Youth Development: Working with Kids in the Juvenile Justice System

by Benjamin Chambers

positive-youth-development_positive-youth-justice-coverA few days ago, I posted about a framework for providing opportunities for young people in the juvenile justice system to develop important skills that build on their competencies instead of their deficits in Positive Youth Justice – a Model for Building Assets in the Juvenile Justice System. This was based on a publication authored by Jeffrey Butts, Gordon Bazemore, and Aundra Saa Meroe, and published by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, titled, Positive Youth Justice: Framing Justice Interventions Using the Concepts of Positive Youth Development.

At the back of the publication, I found these inspiring "rules" for creating youth development programs: 

  1. Assume that young people are competent. When you start with the assumption that youth are damaged, some of them will likely “catch” the very problem they think they are supposed to have.
  2. When working with young people, make sure they are in mixed groups—youth and adults solving common community problems together, and making sure youth themselves come from a mix of the usual group labels—good/bad, quick/slow, etc.
  3. Jobs and activities for youth must be important, rewarding, and meaningful to create a sense of success, contribution, and belonging.

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Positive Youth Development: Achieving Recovery Through Creativity (A.R.T.C.)

by Kasey Harlin MA CADC CCDP-D

positive-youth-development_sun-and-moonGive teens a microphone or a paintbrush, and they’ll often tell you they want to be a music star, become the next Picasso, or produce multi-platinum records.

Maybe they’ll achieve that dream and maybe they won’t, but I find that giving kids the chance to be creative helps them achieve something even more powerful: healing. And it’s lasting, too. 

That’s why I think one of the most powerful ways to help youth be successful in (and after) substance abuse treatment is to help them express themselves creatively. 

That’s the goal of A.R.T.C., "Achieving Recovery Through Creativity,” a program of Preferred Family Healthcare (PFH), a nonprofit treatment agency based in Missouri. 

A.R.T.C. is a therapeutic creative arts program integrated into our substance abuse and behavioral health programs. It identifies and incorporates the strengths, needs, abilities and preferences of our young clients into their individualized treatment plans.

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Positive Youth Development: The World of Learning, Imagination, and Entertainment

by Bob Schilling
juvenile-justice-system_book-artwork[The following post is by an attorney who works with the Changing Lives Through Literature (CLTL) program at the Reclaiming Futures site in Bristol County, MA. It’s reposted with permission of the author and publisher from the CLTL Blog, Changing Lives, Changing Minds. You can learn more about Bristol County’s experience with the program here. -Ed.]
A former colleague (an assistant district attorney) recently asked me if I was still involved with Judge Kane’s “bleeding heart book club.” We both laughed. In a more serious vein, he went on to ask whether I thought he might enjoy it, because he was approaching retirement and might have some time to – and it sounds like a cliché but really isn’t – “give back to the community.”

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National Mentoring Month, Plus a Positive Youth Development Policy Platform

by Benjamin Chambers

juvenile-court-mentors_mentor-plus-youth-photoNational Mentoring Month in Reclaiming Futures Hocking County

Last Thursday was Thank Your Mentor Day, and the Reclaiming Futures site in Hocking County, OH was featured in the Logan Daily News for promoting it. Their goal is to promote mentoring for youth involved with juvenile court who have alcohol and drug issues.

Like many other juvneile courts, Hocking County has found a lack of local mentors and mentoring programs serving court-involved youth. So they’ve allocated $10,000 in grant money to promote one-on-one mentoring with teens in the justice system. The grant is from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

But if you missed Thank Your Mentor Day — I’m afraid I did — it’s not too late. The whole month of January is National Mentoring Month. Check out the website for ideas and information. 

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Positive Youth Development: Pongo Teen Writing Website

by Benjamin Chambers

juvenile-justice-system-Pongo-teen-writing-logoTeens in the juvenile justice system need opportunities to express themselves as much as — and probably more than — other teens.

Their struggles with family, friends, drugs, alcohol as they mature and try to figure out who they want to be can make for moving fiction, poetry, and essays. Even if they’ve never written before.

Here’s a chance to connect teens in your jurisdiction with online writing activities that make it easy to be creative, explore painful topics, and share their work with others: check out the Pongo Teen Writing website.

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