News / USA

    Instead of Jail, Teen Offenders Try a Fresh Start

    Instead of Jail, Teen Offenders Get a Fresh Starti
    X
    July 01, 2013 2:09 PM
    Teens who get in trouble with the law - fighting, stealing, doing drugs - may be expelled from school or even end up in jail. Helping these teens change their path in life is a challenge, but it is not impossible. Over the course of less than a year, a program in the Washington DC area takes young men referred by the courts or social workers, and gives them that Fresh Start. Faiza Elmasry reports. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Instead of Jail, Teen Offenders Get a Fresh Start
    Faiza Elmasry
    Terrence Sinclair was 17 when he ran into trouble.

    “I got into a couple of fights or something and that led to me actually getting detained,” he said.

    Instead of being sentenced to prison, as an adult might have been, Sinclair was sent to the Fresh Start program in the Washington, D.C. area. He now spends his days studying for his high school diploma, while also learning a vocation.

    “I wanted to come out and get my education," he said. "You got to do it for yourself because I know at the end of the day, if I want to get mine, I have to still sit down and do my work.”

    More than a dozen young men, between 16 and 19 years old, attend classes at the Fresh Start program. Each one has made some bad decisions and is determined to turn his life around.

    “Sometimes they come in a little reluctant," said Kenneth Talley, a carpentry instructor. "Then they get creative and start making their own products.  That’s when they start getting interested.”

    Working in the wood and metal class teaches them other lessons.

    “It gives them patience," Talley said. "It teaches them how to follow directions, make a plan for constructing whatever they’re constructing. [It] also gives them gratification after they finish. They see the end of their work.”

    Once they’re motivated, says Fresh Start Director Toni Lemons, the young men are eager to absorb knowledge.

    The program also helps them navigate their way in the job market.  The Workforce Development class, for example, teaches them how to write a resume and prepare for a job interview.

    “This is where they build their soft skills," Lemons said. "They’re writing resumes. They’re learning how to do cover letters, learning basic things: how to respond to questions in interviews, body language and gestures and how that can potentially impact you when you’re in an interview."

    In the Life Skills class, students learn other skills they need to succeed in career and personal life.

    “How to tie a tie, which is very important when it comes to going on a job interview." Lemons said. "They learn how to budget, to be able to maintain their finances.”

    Outdoor classes are as important as indoor ones, and so are community events where Fresh Start students mentor younger kids, which helps them gain confidence to become role models themselves.

    “The very important thing with that is that a lot of our young people don’t really experience that on a day-to-day basis," Lemons said. "So our job is to help them to get connected with their community.”

    At the end of the 11-month-long program, Fresh Start helps its graduates, like 18-year-old Tayron Gerald, find a job.

    "They treat you like adults," Gerald said. "The whole program is like a career. They give you a job. They give you a voice. In a traditional high school, you don’t really get a voice. I still want to become an engineer. I believe I can do it.”

    Lemons has high hopes for the teenager's future.

    “This is a young man who, throughout facing adversity, continued to push forward," she said. "He’s a hard worker. He’s very dedicated. He understands opportunities, and one of the things that he does is capitalize on them. Now he’s working in a receptionist position.”

    Gerald believes the program works because it understands what troubled young men need to break their old, bad habits. Fresh Start is designed to help troubled young men realize they're part of the community and truly have a chance to make a fresh start.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Rick Hann from: NH
    July 06, 2013 6:56 AM
    This has got to be the best program for young people I have ever heard of.
    it doesn't say if it is state or privately run.
    I would surely invest in young people in this way.
    very inspiring.

    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    July 02, 2013 4:16 AM
    There is no one who never run into trouble in life. No matter how old we are, we can try a fresh start anytime only when we just make a decision. Thank you.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.