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The Teens Initiating Change youth program was established in 1998 by School Resource Officer, India R. Smith in the school system of Chatham County, Savannah, Georgia. In 2002, Officer India Smith relocated to the City of Riverdale Police Department in Riverdale, Georgia. Upon the request of the City of Riverdale Police Chief, Thetus Knox, the youth program was set in motion there. In 2008, Officer India Smith was assigned to the Clayton County Police Department, and upon the request of Chief Jeff Turner, the youth program was implemented there as well. In 2010, Officer India Smith was brought on to the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office where the youth program was also requested by the Clayton County Sheriff.
We believe that crime prevention works. It is economical, safer, and healthier for communities to prevent crime rather than to treat its victims, deal with its perpetrators, and lose civic health and productivity.
But the responsibility of crime prevention does not fall on one entity; it's everyone's business. Law enforcement agencies, however, often are the focal point in crime prevention. To make prevention work, we will introduce the newest exchange program of its kind, "The Teens Initiating Change Youth Program". The Youth Program is designed for Clayton County youth only. We will take pride in choosing youth between the ages of 13-19 who can demonstrate leadership in their communities. As a law enforcement officer, we operated under strict guidelines. As such, the youth involved in the program will operate under the same guidelines and high standards for both education and emotional growth.
Our purpose is "Awakening Values through Commitment and Achievement."
We believe those teens who take committed action to create great lives through personal and academic achievement create greatness for themselves and within their relationships. We also believe that all teens possess these capabilities if they are awakened through emotional inspiration and academic challenge. Awakening these values is the mission of the Teens Initiating Change Youth Program.
The goal of this innovative partnership is to recognize the importance of connecting youth with supportive adults in order to develop personal and community strengths. Community-building, youth empowerment, and crime prevention will redirect youth from a problem-focused approach to a community-youth involvement approach.
Preparation of the Plan
The program will be based on the (TCC) Teens, Crime and the Community. This component of the program believes smarter youth make safer communities. Through a combination of education and service-learning, the Teens, Crime, and the Community (TCC) initiative has motivated more than one million young people to create safer schools and communities.
It has been demonstrated that TCC increases social responsibility in teens, educates them about the law, reduces their potential for victimization, and engages them in making their homes, schools, and communities safer. There are two programs administered under the TCC initiative: Community Works, a comprehensive law-related, crime prevention curriculum, and Youth Safety Corps, the club component of the TCC initiative.
Youth Safety Corp (YSC) provides youth interested in public safety and crime prevention (such as students who have completed a Community Works course) an opportunity to engage in ongoing active participation in crime prevention. Young people partner with school resource officers, school personnel, and community volunteers to assess and analyze the safety and security issues within their school and communities that contribute to youth violence and victimization. YSC teams then address those physical and social safety issues by implementing projects, such as painting over graffiti on the walls of a school, developing presentations to teach children about bullying, or surveying students about their attitudes toward underage drinking.
Youth further develop their understanding of crime and their skills to stay safe through Community Works, and they learn leadership and team-building skills by continuing to respond to their community's various safety needs with Youth Safety Corps. Youth master knowledge and skills when knowledge is reinforced and skills are practiced and applied. The complementary goals and service project components of Community Works and Youth Safety Corps give youth the opportunity to participate in a comprehensive initiative that provides a framework to foster resiliency and help youth develop their leadership potential.
They will develop intellectually:
· Feel smarter
· Value education more highly
· Hone their creative problem-solving skills
· Perfect their critical faculties
· Eagerly receive information and support to help them build their future
They will gain social competence:
· Develop positive peer support groups
· Develop leadership skills and the confidence to use them
· Discover the joy of helping and teaching others
· Understand the value of team work
· Realize they have a new place to call home
They will learn about the world of work:
· Realize that they can have aspirations and achieve their goals
· Seek out staff as mentors
· Appreciate their new opportunities to practice and master skills
· Receive respect and recognition for their accomplishments
· Appreciate the high expectations that the staff have for them
· Become more aware of skills they already have and learn new ones
· Gain marketable work skills
· Feel valued by a larger institution/community
· Develop a code of ethics and a sense of responsibility to a larger community.
The eligibility requirements for the program include youth who are residents of the Clayton County only, youth who are between the ages of 13-19, and youth, who have potential to demonstrate leadership in their communities. Ideal candidates should possess qualities such as flexibility and a willingness to try new things that will enable them to become excellent citizens of the community. The youth will enter the program in three categories:
- 1st voluntarily request participation
- 2nd others will be appointed by the Juvenile Court of Clayton County. The youth from Juvenile Court will be court ordered to abide by an informal contract or agreement. These youth can be maintained under the court's supervision for a period up to 120 days. Prior training for the TCC curriculum revealed that the program can be adjusted to fit the needs of the community it serves. Therefore, the program will be adjusted for Juvenile Court appointees who are under the court’s supervision.
- 3rd youth who have already been on probation or those who will be eligible for probation due to the seriousness of their current offense will be mandated to participate in the program. These youth can participate in the full 31 week program, as their Court order will be valid for up to two years.
Youth will be elected to serve in the following positions while participating in the program:
· Timekeeper/Director of materials
· Officer of orderly conduct and noise control
Rules and Enforcement
Youth are expected to follow the rules listed below:
- We will arrive on time
- We will treat everyone with respect.
- We will avoid the use of personal references.
- We will wait our turn to speak and will not talk when others are talking.
- We will maintain good program attendance.
- We know that as long as we are part of the City of Riverdale Police Department Youth Program, we are subject to be visited by program officials at our school at anytime.
- We will not use physical contact during any activities.
Three documented write-up's for the violations of program rules and the program contract will result in more drastic measures. Consequences include suspension from the program benefits of field trips, group discussions, and other special activities. If the disapproved behavior continues, possible termination from the program may result.
The program session meeting times are 9am-2pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays starting in the month of June through the month of and continues during the regular school year. The program consists of a rigorous curriculum, which gives youth an opportunity to develop leadership skills, form healthy relationships with caring adults that act as positive role models, and help the community through planning and implementing a community project. The curriculum includes crime prevention and physical activities that help to improve health and develop a positive attitude about keeping the body healthy and fit for life. These physical activities include walking, aerobics, stepping, jump rope, creative dancing, and other team sport activities.