Blue skies, a beautiful park and live music set the stage for the 3rd Annual Community Awareness Fair we hosted on Saturday, June 27, 2009. The Juvenile Office in Greene County, Missouri organizes this event to connect youth and families with local resources. The fair also allows us to expand beyond the walls of the courtroom and detention center, and into the community.
Blog: Community Engagement
[Steve Pasierb is President and CEO of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. This is Part 2 of a 2-part post; find Part 1 of Using Media to Connect People with Help for Addiction here. -Ed.]
Lesson 6: A comprehensive intervention Web site is an essential tool.
Treatment messages must include a "call to action" to a phone line and, importantly, a web resource to learn more about options for help. It was found that a dedicated Web site was an essential resource for the public on addiction issues, and that media can effectively promote this resource, generating strong traffic and lengthening visit time.
[Steve Pasierb is President and CEO of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. This is Part 1 of a 2-part post. -Ed.]
A research-based communications exploratory by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) produced a set of 10 “lessons learned” that can be applicable to all working to communicate with the public on addiction treatment. It also became the foundation of the Partnership’s ongoing collaboration with the Treatment Research Institute (TRI), which has produced a range of innovative, useful new intervention tools like Time To Act.
Lesson 1: Public attitudes are indeed barriers to help-seeking.
Our work with RWJF identified three public attitudes that must be counteracted:
The juvenile justice field has been one of the last to accept a strength-based or asset-based community development approach to working with young people and to working with communities to reduce juvenile crime.
However, based on pioneering work on a strength-based bill of rights for juvenile offenders developed by Laura Nissen, Executive Director of Reclaiming Futures and many other asset-based practitioners, the idea of a community development approach to juvenile justice has been slowly taking hold.
Maybe you're still wondering, like me, how we got from rotary phones to "social media." Or maybe you're wondering if tools like Facebook, Twitter, RSS Feeds, and the like are relevant for juvenile justice or alcohol and drug treatment for teens.
Well, you're in luck: the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, in partnership with Reclaiming Futures, invites you to attend a free Webinar on the ever-growing world of social media. The event will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 2, 2009.
Many jurisdictions want models on how to recruit mentors of color for youth in the justice system, so here's two: the Reclaiming Futures site in Dayton, Ohio site is a great example (I plan to feature them in more detail in the near future), and so is the Seattle Reclaiming Futures site, whose 4C Coalition I featured in December.
Karen Carpenter, the Community Fellow for our site in Rowan County, North Carolina, let me know that her op-ed on who's responsible for ending youth violence appeared in yesterday's Salisbury Post.
A sad occasion -- the shooting death of a teen in Salisbury -- but an eloquent call for mentors for teens who need them. Good work, Karen!
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) is providing more funding for mentors of youth under the "Second Chance Juvenile Mentoring Initiative." Grantees will receive up to $625,000 for three years; awards require a 25% match (cash or in-kind); proposals are due June 15, 2009.
Want to see changes in the adolescent substance abuse treatment system? Families are the key. If change is to occur, then families have to be part of the solution. Yet too often, they’re left out of the conversation.
That might be about to change.
We have a winner! Earlier this week, I announced that we'd give away a copy of "Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America, by journalist Paul Tough.
To choose a winner, I took all of those who entered the contest and I numbered their entries. Then I entered the first and last numbers in the Random Number Generator, and pushed the button. The generator picked a number at random, and we had our winner: Shawn Billings, Probation & Field Services Supervisor for the Family/Juvenile Court in the Reclaiming Futures site in Greene County, MO. (FYI, you don't have to work at a Reclaiming Futures site to enter or win; Shawn just got lucky.)
Congratulations to Shawn! For the rest of you, we'll have more giveaways coming up. Stay tuned!
Want to do something positive with teens in the justice system? Give them a camera. Teach them how to use digital media.
Who knows? They might make a movie about the danger of making false assumptions about other people -- passing judgment on themselves, for example.
Don't believe me? Check out the trailer for a film made by nine young inmates in jail in Westchester County, NY (right next door, by the way, to the Reclaiming Futures site in Nassau County, NY). According to The New York Times, their movie, "Judgement," was recently screened before "a packed house." Two of the young men were able to attend in person; several more, still incarcerated, attended by video feed. (UPDATE: the film is available at YouTube in two parts - thanks to Youth Today's blog for the tip!)
Hint to Reclaiming Futures sites: having youth in the justice system tell their stories is a great sustainability tool, and it helps inspire community members to get involved in their lives.
Reclaiming Futures Hocking County launched “Youth News”, a quarterly newsletter, in February. The first issue includes an interview with Natasha Cook, a young woman helped by the local juvenile court; a story about the difference positive relationships with family, community and church made in the life of Juvenile Probate Judge Richard Wallar when he was a 15-year-old – the average age of a young person in the juvenile justice system; and lists of volunteer, educational and recreational opportunities for teenagers in the area. The seven-page publication is edited by Gretchen Gregory with help from writers Christa Myers and Rev. Mark Daniels.
Great job, Hocking County!
Complicated times… In so many ways, youth advocates have access to more helpful information, inspiration, role models and heroes than ever before. We have movements, evidence-based practices, champions and momentum for a variety of important reforms and improvements across a range of youth-serving systems.
At the exact same time, we watch disparities grow, budgets strain under pressure, poverty persist among too many. Within Reclaiming Futures communities, even those who have been the most successful implementing the model feel they must rigorously defend each and every aspect of their programs in these budget-trimming times.
Yet now more than ever before, it's essential to focus on our key components:
Our project site in Orange and Chatham Counties, North Carolina, recently held its kick-off meeting, generating lots of excitement. Susan Powell, Community Fellow for the site -- pictured on the far left -- wrote in to tell us about it:
On Thursday, January 22, 2009, the Orange Chatham Counties Reclaiming Futures initiative hosted its kick-off meeting. Reclaiming Futures coach Elleen Deck & consultant Judy Schector did a wonderful job explaining the Reclaiming Futures model, goals, and approach to those in attendance. The Reclaiming Futures Fellows were pleased to see such a wonderful turn-out and participation by the group as a whole. Several prominent members of our community attended the meeting.
Implementing Reclaiming Futures means including families and youth in building service plans for individual teens -- and in improving services overall. Need help doing it?
Consider attending the 2009 Building Family Strengths conference on June 23-25, 2009, in Portland, OR - you can even submit a proposal for a presentation, if you do so by this Friday, February 6, 2009.
Several years ago, I had the pleasure of conducting focus groups with youth who were in various stages of recovery following treatment. The consistency of responses among the groups of youth I spoke with was overwhelming and pushed me to think about what we need to do for youth following treatment that might be different than for adults.
A major theme that came out of each group was that they felt abandoned after they completed treatment. They were told things like: