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Youths at Duval Halfway House Practiced Restorative Justice this Thanksgiving

November 23, 2010

Duval Halfway House Thanksgiving Baskets

Residents of the Duval Halfway House worked in concert the facility's advisory board and other community stakeholders to collect can goods and other foods for distribution to needy families. In the spirit of Restorative Justice during this season of giving, the youths decorated, filled and accompanied staff and advisory board members to distribute 10 food baskets, including turkeys, to local families adversely impacted by crime. The recipients were selected by the Duval County Sheriffs Office Department of Victim Services.

Among the recipients was a young man who was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot when he attempted to stop the car-jacking of an elderly woman.  While visiting the Duval Halfway House, he spoke with the youth about making good decisions and the dangers of firearms. Shown here is a photo of the 10 food baskets that were distributed.

Residents Learn about Voting and Empowerment

November 5, 2010

The residents of the Okeechobee Youth Development Center (OYDC) and the Okeechobee Intensive Halfway House (OIHH) learned about the empowerment of voting when the facilities hosted a Civics Day in late October, which included speakers from local government.

Civics DayThe guest speakers included OYDC/OIHH Advisory Board Member Jim Vensel, Okeechobee County Sheriff Paul May, Deputy Sheriff Noel Stevens, and candidates for the Okeechobee County Commission: Joey Hoover (incumbent), Terry Burroughs and Bryant Culpepper. The speakers described the processes of local, state and federal government, teaching the youth about the importance of voting and how exercising the right to vote puts each voter in a position of power to sculpt the future of this society.

In addition, 27 citizen residents who attended Civic Day completed a voter registration form, which was processed by Okeechobee Supervisor of Elections Gwen Chandler, allowing the youths to become registered voters for the November 2010 elections.

Leslie Peters Halfway House and Hillsborough County School Board Youth Services Form Community Partnerships

August 23, 2010

The Les Peters Halfway House and the Hillsborough County School Board Youth Services formed community partnerships with the Armed Forces Military Museum, the National Aviation Academy and military recruiters.

The National Aviation Academy presented a video of the AVIATOR, a jet powered funny car which runs 297 mph and produces 6Gs on takeoff. The youth were provided with information packets on different aviation maintenance careers, tuition assistance, scholarships and the application process. The youth toured the academy classrooms and the aviation hanger where they observed students working on assigned projects. 

The tour of the Armed Forces Military Museum   helped the youth understand the relevance and significance of the Armed Forces to the United States and to the World. The youth now have a better understanding of different wars that affected American freedoms. Youth Services established a connection between the lessons being taught in social studies and viewed memorabilia from America's military history.  Marine Staff Sergeant Diaz   spoke to the youth briefly on military lifestyle. His main focus was on how it is never too late for change.

Staff Sergeant Diaz discussed the challenges he faced as a young adult and how a traumatizing event helped him make the decision to change and to make better choices. He involved all the youth and had only positive comments for each of them. Staff Sergeant Diaz was a phenomenal speaker and was an inspiration to the youth. The youth gave him a standing ovation and asked that he return in the near future to participate in some of their daily activities.

National Aviation Academy
Armed Forces Military Museum
Marine Staff Sgt Diaz

Pretty in Pink, Girls at Okeechobee Build It, Paint It, Move It, and Beautify It

June 28, 2010

Girls working on community service project outsideReprinted with permission from the Florida Juvenile Justice Association “FJJA Newsletter,” (June 2010, Volume 4, Issue 36). Photograph reprinted with permission of G4S Youth Services, LLC.

Dressed in pink, the Home Builder Institute students at the Okeechobee Girls Academy (OGA) can compete with any work crew. Over the course of a month, the students learned brick-and-mortar building skills, how to build Adirondack chairs, constructed a stage, painted, planted, and moved furnishings around the facility.

Since the program’s start-up in mid-March 2010, the girls took what was once a wilderness setting for boys and turned it into a haven to beautify, develop and decorate. While the current focus is on beautifying the campus, the girls welcome future opportunities to help the surrounding Okeechobee community.

Orlando Magic Executive Lucas Boyce Visits G4S Youth Services’ Orange Youth Academy

June 8, 2010

Lucas BoyceLucas Boyce joined the Orlando Magic as Director of Multicultural Insights and Cause Marketing in July 2008. Born two months premature to a mother who was addicted to drugs and alcohol, Boyce had a difficult start in life. At 10 days old, he was placed into foster care and was later adopted by his foster family at the age of three. He struggled with learning and behavioral issues due to developmental delays caused by his birth mother’s lifestyle. With the support of his new family, the faith they instilled in him and his hard work, Boyce overcame those obstacles. He learned to thrive in school and went on to graduate cum laude from the University of Central Missouri with a degree in political science and speech communication.

Boyce set out on the path to success with three goals in mind: to work for the White House, to fly on Air Force One, and to work for an NBA team. Before the age of 30, he successfully achieved all of three goals. He served in the White House, under President George W. Bush, in the Office of Public Liaison where he directed African-American and Professional Sports Outreach. He also held a position in the Office of Political Affairs where he traveled on Air Force One to monitor political activities and to track key races for the President. While working in the White House, Boyce met an Orlando Magic executive. This meeting subsequently led to an interview for his current position with the organization where he is responsible for strategic business planning and directing the organization’s multicultural initiatives and community outreach.

Boyce and Residents of OYAThe young men of Orange Youth Academy were impressed and inspired by the positive messages Lucas Boyce shared with them. The program is grateful to him for taking the time to speak to the residents. Community involvement and partnerships like this make it possible for the Orange Youth Academy to provide learning opportunities for the young men and for them to practice the social and behavioral skills needed to ensure future success.