Writer / Erin Smith
Imagine if you had to meet your dad after going 13 years of your life never knowing who he was? Or experiencing at age 16 a parent abandoning your family, leaving behind no food or money? Youths’ brains are not yet mature enough to know how to appropriately process their conflicted emotional states in such situations. Therefore, they often lash out, and some participate in juvenile crimes.
Youth Connections provides services for youth 18 years and younger susceptible to juvenile delinquent behaviors including theft, drug abuse and modest assault. They found after-school programs to be an effective way to teach kids how to deal with hectic life situations in a constructive way. Different programs such as Jumpstart Group Mentoring and Project Safe Place help kids manage their emotions in appropriate ways and practice good study/work habits.
Pay It Forward Johnson County (PITJC) funds allowed Youth Connections to expand their Safe Place program into more schools. In 2014, the program message reached over 15,859 youth and adults, which resulted in assisting 83 youth through the Safe Place helpline. Initiatives for this program include healthy relationships, education on substance abuse and bullying awareness.
Executive Director Tom Bingham says, “I definitely would like to reach out and say how important the dollars from PIFJC were to Youth Connections and the families they serve. I encourage you to support Pay It Forward Johnson County. It’s a great organization serving several not-for-profits here in our area.”
With the funding of these programs, kids are growing academically, raising their self-confidence and finding resources to succeed in all areas of life.
Youth Connections STEM program with Lego education is gaining momentum. This after-school program caters to elementary and middle school students who have an interest in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. The hope is for kids to see beyond the common misperception that a four-year college degree is most highly valued.
The program’s group interaction fosters hands-on learning, anger management practices and pro-social collaboration. Youth Connections is committed to assisting and encouraging our future generation of teachers, community leaders and business owners.
Youth Connections welcomes calls from people who could benefit from services they provide. They can be reached at 317-738-3273 or their website at youthconnections.org.