New mentorship program presents assist to teenagers in juvenile detention


“You don’t want to have a level to be compassionate and to know and perceive and empathize with a youngster,” Yearwood mentioned. “I believe that folks do not faucet into their human facet or their childhood self sufficient in order that they will relate [to young people]. Individuals at all times suppose, I did not have this shared expertise with this younger individual, so I am unable to relate. However if you happen to actually simply get previous that and dig a bit deeper, you understand that you’ve a lot perception to supply younger people who find themselves experiencing traumatic childhood experiences.”

Yearwood partnered with Dr. Lauren Shure of Barry College to create the curriculum for the interactive program. Shure is this system’s lead psychological well being specialist and is taken into account by Yearwood to be a “important anchor” to this system’s success. The pair initially piloted this system for 2 years in Miami, Florida, earlier than formally launching it in two New York juvenile detention facilities for younger males—Horizon Juvenile Detention Middle within the Bronx and Crossroads Juvenile Middle in Brooklyn—in July. This system is essentially distant, so there was no want to regulate it to stick to COVID-19 protocols. Although the curriculum isn’t gender-specific, Yearwood says she was particularly excited to work with younger males.

“Once I consider organizations that actually work for younger individuals, they typically deal with younger women,” Yearwood mentioned. “It was actually superior to have the ability to have a second to actually deal with younger males … I believe we do not give younger males sufficient credit score for his or her openness and for his or her skill to be tender and weak if you give them area.”

Any program in juvenile detention facilities should first be cleared by directors, and happily for Yearwood, she had an acquaintance working at a detention heart who had learn the e book and championed this system to be applied. As soon as this system is cleared, the services lease this system for one 12 months. Subsequent, employees is skilled onsite by Yearwood on the fabric inside the e book and navigate discussions.

“I practice them on this system to allow them to begin to perceive and put together themselves for the shifts and the adjustments that these younger persons are going to face after they’re studying this e book,” Yearwood mentioned. “This system goes to make them be introspective and make them take into consideration their previous and future, each of which will be actually onerous and intense, particularly for a youngster nonetheless navigating and studying who they’re.”

As soon as this system is picked up at a website, participation is required. This system solely accepts 30 members per 10-week cycle, and roughly three to 4 cycles are doable in a one-year interval. Members have interaction in weekly chapter reads and are anticipated to reply questions and prompts on the finish of every part of the e book. The questions and prompts cowl subjects associated to household relationships, forgiveness, shallowness, and self-image. Although she isn’t within the room through the discussions, Yearwood nonetheless finds a strategy to join with the kids. The members are proven a video of Yearwood answering every of the questions within the e book, the place she opens up about herself and her private experiences.

“I wished to guarantee that I created a program that did not simply give these youngsters a e book and say, ‘Y’all go forward and do your required studying,’” Yearwood mentioned. “If we all know something about self work, we all know that if we will keep away from it, we are going to. That is why you’ve individuals of their 30s, 40s, and 50s nonetheless working via issues they’d after they have been 15 years previous.”

The solutions to the workbook questions are despatched over to the mentors on Yearwood’s crew, who mirror on the responses and write a letter again about what they interpreted from the solutions in that chapter. Since youth counselors typically take care of heavy workloads and oversee lots of of children at a time, Yearwood wished to make sure members in her program obtained extra one-on-one consideration. This system supplies one mentor for each three members, so every teen is ready to obtain personalised suggestions and a focus all through this system.

“[The mentor’s response] may very well be one thing like, ‘What’s up, Tommy? I liked the way in which you talked about your self if you described your self as good and vibrant. I used to search out it onerous to search out constructive phrases for myself,’” Yearwood mentioned. “They will additionally give them some recommendation and a few encouragement to go on all through the week.”

Mentorship is likely one of the key facets of this system, and helps teenagers obtain assist as they be taught extra about themselves and their ambitions. Every mentor is vetted and skilled beneath Yearwood’s firm, Group Ohhh. Mentors are chosen rigorously based mostly on their background and are paired up with a detainee of their similar race to allow them to higher relate to the kids’ experiences.

“If youngsters see themselves in you and may relate to you, they will broaden on themselves,” Yearwood mentioned.

If a mentor suspects their mentee wants further assist based mostly on their responses, they’ll schedule a while for them to talk to a psychological well being specialist who can deal with their wants. The crew’s psychological well being specialists additionally collect information about how every teen responds to every chapter so as to enhance the effectiveness of this system and supply extra detailed suggestions on the finish of the 10 weeks.

Up to now, this system is just supplied in two juvenile detention facilities in New York, however Yearwood’s 2021 purpose is to implement this system in no less than six detention facilities. Her long-term purpose is to broaden it into each faculty and juvenile detention heart within the nation. Within the meantime, she has some recommendation for younger individuals who really feel tossed apart or are experiencing hardship:

“Adversity births legends,” Yearwood mentioned. “Be as daring as you’ll be able to and don’t ask for permission to be nice.”

Carolyn Copeland is a replica editor and employees reporter for Prism. She covers racial justice and tradition. Observe her on Twitter @Carolyn_Copes.

Prism is a BIPOC-led nonprofit information outlet that facilities the individuals, locations and points presently underreported by our nationwide media. By our authentic reporting, evaluation, and commentary, we problem dominant, poisonous narratives perpetuated by the mainstream press and work to construct a full and correct report of what’s taking place in our democracy. Observe us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.





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