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Marion: ReCapturing Kids Hearts

Team members (l-r): Martina Rush, Daris Gore, Vanessa Stevenson
Not pictured: Rebecca Ford, Carl Stokes

Recapturing Kids Hearts, a community action project which will bring together a diverse group of people to impact the lives of some of our students who are in the most need, seeks to provide them with opportunities to be college and/or career ready. The district’s mission is to educate, prepare and inspire all students and this includes students who are at-risk of not being college and/or career ready due to various factors. The population of students that the team will be working with are middle and high school students assigned to the district’s alternative placement, Success Academy at Palmetto Education Center. Many of these students have had experiences with law enforcement or the Department of Juvenile Justice, but on the consequential end. ReCapturing Kids Hearts is designed to not only collaborate with the DJJ in taking advantage of the prevention programs they offer, but to also collaborate with the local law enforcement, faith-based organizations, local small business owners and Clemson extension to provide a population of students with exposure to experiences in the community that will support life and career characteristics of the South Carolina graduate. ReCapturing Kids Hearts will begin in January of 2018 with weekly meetings held at Success Academy for identified students. At the conclusion of the 10 week programs facilitated by representatives from DJJ, students will go on a college tour and participate in a graduation ceremony as a result of completing the program. A description of the programs are included below. Other community representatives have already begun to work with the students as it relates to knowing how to learn, communication, integrity, self-direction, perseverance, work ethic and interpersonal skills.

Boy’s Council –
The Council for Young Boys and Men is a strength-based group approach program for boys and young men ages 9 to 18, designed to promote a safe and healthy passage through pre-teen and adolescent years by building strong, positive relationships. In a structured environment, boys and young men have the opportunity to address masculine definitions and behaviors, and build their capacities to find their innate value and create good lives. Recognizing boys' strengths and capacities, the Council challenges stereotypes, questions unsafe attitudes about masculinity, and encourages solidarity through personal and collective responsibility.

Girl’s Circle –
Girl’s Circle is a program for girls ages 9 to 18 designed to foster self-esteem, help girls maintain authentic connection with peers and adult women in their community, counter trends toward self-doubt, and allow for genuine self-expression through verbal sharing and creative activity. Conducted by trained local DJJ county office female staff volunteers, the Girl’s Circle groups consist of 5 to 10 girls who meet once weekly. Topics include friendship, body image, female identity, stereotypes, trusting self and others, aggression and dating violence, diversity and cultural heritage, relationships, substance abuse and risk behaviors, goal setting, and self-care.