Changing Young Lives in Massachusetts
The Reclaiming Futures model is used in 29 communities (in 17 states) across the country. As National Executive Director Susan Richardson often says, "if you've seen one court, you've seen one court," meaning that while every Reclaiming Futures court implements the same six step model, there are often differences in the program based on what works in each community. In Snohomish County, Washington, troubled teens work with local artists to learn glass blowing and creative writing. In Oklahoma's Cherokee Nation, youth learn about their heritage and partake in cultural events. And in Bristol County, Massachusetts, the focus is on building teens' self-esteem and self-worth. One model with many different approaches -- and all with great results.
The South Coast Today recently wrote about the success of Reclaiming Futures in Bristol County. From the article:
The program first treats the problem, then tries to infuse some responsibility in the adolescents.
"First we have to deal with the foggy heads," [Bettina Borders, the presiding judge of New Bedford Juvenile Court] said, adding that the court also uses its leverage to require participation and compliance with the program.
She said the program then tries to instill qualities such as consideration, ambition and self-discipline. She said the hope is it can change the thinking of many of the adolescents that a "crib, car and a girl" are the important things in life.
Through the drug court, the participants may learn specifically about science, local history or their culture or ethnicity, but more importantly the judge said the youths are being taught responsibility and self-worth.
Congratulations on your terrific success, Judge Border, Pamela Talbot, Cheryl Beauregard and the rest of the Bristol County team! You continue to inspire us with your dedication and hard work and we look forward to sharing your efforts with our other courts.
Liz Wu is a Digital Accounts Manager at Prichard Communications, where she oversees digital outreach for Reclaiming Futures and edits Reclaiming Futures Every Day. Before joining the Prichard team, Liz established the West Coast communications presence for the New America Foundation, where she managed all media relations, event planning and social media outreach for their 6 domestic policy programs. Liz received a B.A. in both Peace and Conflict Studies and German from the University of California at Berkeley. She tweets from @LizSF.
*Photo at top by Flickr user bfraz