Supporting Teens in Treatment and Beyond: Our Community Summit and Lessons Learned

community-involvement_people-working-at-tablesI’m sure you already know the Reclaiming Futures mantra for teens in the justice system who have alcohol and drug issues: “More treatment, better treatment, and beyond treatment!”
The hardest part of the mantra to bring to fruition is the third part of it – how can we help support youth in recovery once they’re done with treatment (or even the juvenile court)? Changing behavior for the long-term isn’t easy, and youth need positive activities and supportive adults to help them stay sober and crime-free.
To begin to tackle our own “beyond treatment” plan, Bristol County Reclaiming Futures recently hosted a “sustainability summit.” Our goal was to initiate conversation about how to better meet the needs of at-risk and justice-involved youth with substance abuse issues, and I’m happy to report that the project generated a lot of positive energy and even made the news! We generated a number of strategies to move forward, and a task force comprised of summit attendees and other interested parties soon begin working on implementing them. (Special thanks to Dan Merrigan of Boston University, our Reclaiming Futures coach, for facilitating the work group project.)
Some highlights:


  • positive-youth-development_Patrick-in-prisonYouth from Whaling City Alternative High School presented their video about the importance of remaining in school, titled, "Where Are YOU Headed?"  It consists of brief but powerful portraits of six young adults who recently attended the New Bedford public schools – some of the young people are successful, and some are not, like 24-year-old Patrick, who’s now incarcerated.
  • Students from the Central High School Leadership Group also made a presentation.The group offers peer support to help teens dealing with substance abuse issues and to support them in the long-term recovery process. The youth traveled with two group facilitators and Greg Williams of Connecticut Turning to Youth and Families (CTYF), which has helped establish peer support groups like this one.

Want to Host a Summit in your Community? We've compiled a list of tips and "lessons learned" for hosting your own event. I hope you find them useful.
Still have questions? Feel free to contact Pam Talbot, our project director for Reclaiming Futures. 
A Related Post: What Have the Reclaiming Futures Fellowships Learned?

juvenile-court_Judge-BordersThe Honorable Bettina Borders is the first justice to the Bristol County Juvenile Court in New Bedford. Appointed by the Governor in 2000, she has begun a number of alternative sentencing projects including Changing Lives through Literature and the Juvenile 2nd Chance Drug Court. Throughout her tenure as a judge, she has worked with numerous city and state organizations to provide needed rehabilitative services to the youth in her court. Judge Borders holds degrees from Goddard College, Columbia University, and the University Of Connecticut School Of Law.

Updated: February 08 2018