Scott Stump, assistant secretary for career, technical, and adult education at the U.S. Department of Education, visited Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center Jan. 17 to see the vocational and technical opportunities available to the center's youth. Stump, CDHS Executive Director Michelle Barnes, Director of the Division of Youth Services Anders Jacobson, and Director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families Minna Castillo Cohen visited the center’s screen printing shop, and barbering, culinary arts and construction trades programs. “The visit inspired conversation, vision, and direction to further support youth vocational programming in DYS,” Jacobson said. "I saw students preparing to be career ready upon reentry," Stump said. "It’s more important than ever to provide multiple educational pathways to incarcerated individuals at facilities such as Lookout Mountain."
For the 31st year in a row, youth at Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center have given back to families in need during the holidays.
Four youth in the Eagles program at Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center spent the day volunteering at the Second Wind Walk/Run, October 5, 2019, in Green Mountain. The Second Wind Fund is a suicide awareness and prevention organization that was founded in 2002. To date, the Second Wind Fund has helped more than 5,600 young people. This is the fifth year that Eagles program youth have been involved with the walk/run.
Youth from Pueblo Youth Services Center celebrated by making artwork and sharing their cultural experiences.
Seventeen youth from Division of Youth Services (DYS) facilities took part in creating a vibrant mural on the side of a Montessori school in Curtis Park July 8-12. One of DYS’s goals is to provide opportunities for youth to make things as right as possible for those who were impacted by their crime. Reconciliations include serving on impact panels, participating in volunteer projects, and working with youth and staff in community service projects.
The mural project was a way for youth to not only build skills, but also give back to the community and help repair the harm they may have caused. Projects such as the mural involve groups, team-building activities and a clear vision of how each youth is contributing to a larger effort to improve the greater community. The youth enjoyed participating in something positive and special that would be a permanent reminder of the good things they can do.
The Division of Youth Services (DYS) has reduced solitary confinement, or seclusion, by nearly 70 percent since October 2016 by remodeling physical spaces and developing resources for additional staff. Their efforts have earned national attention in a new report, Not in Isolation from Stop Solitary for Kids, a nationwide campaign to safely end solitary confinement in juvenile facilities.
Operation Montserrat is an interactive education program that simulates the safety response to the multiple natural disasters that almost destroyed the island of Montserrat in 1995. Youth are divided into five safety teams: Volcano Team, Hurricane Team, Evacuation Team, Satellite Team, and Communications Team. Through an interactive, all school day event, teams are given "real time" information and must work together to calculate, draw, produce, and send communications to the Communications Team, who is the only team that has direct communication with "Challenger," the NASA command center. Youth that exhibited exemplary leadership were rewarded with a pizza party and movie the following Friday.
Six Ridge youth and a few staff from Grand Mesa Youth Services Center had the opportunity to take a community pass to Ridgeline Fitness. This gym specializes in Olympic style lifting and strength training for outdoor activities. They had a coach instruct them on deadlifts and back squats, showing them proper technique and form. These skills and personalized instruction are true benefits that the youth can take with them in the future, if they choose to continue doing this type of activity. Not only did they have a chance to lift weights but they also were able to try flipping tires, doing a sled push, and playing around on the monkey bars. Many of the youth expressed gratitude for the opportunity to have a true gym experience, want to pursue what they learned, and incorporate heathy habits into their lifestyle!
The youth at Mount View Youth Service Center had a few extra special treats for Easter this year! As part of their cooking education class on Friday (led by Michael Winston and Todd Paige), the youth were able to participate in some traditional Easter festivities by decorating 100 cookies and using food coloring to dye 100 hard boiled eggs.
On Easter day, the youth were treated to a morning surprise of cinnamon rolls, rolled and iced by Todd and Paula. For Easter dinner, the youth were treated to a Greek family meal prepared by Dina, Kirk, and Julie. This delicious meal consisted of gyros, greek salad, fruit, chocolate milk, and for an extra special treat, baklava!
It was a wonderful day of celebrating and enjoying a few Easter festivities.