OSWEGO – The best way to prevent repeated offenses by juvenile offenders is to offer them education, support and encouragement.
The Salvation Army’s Bridging the Gap Between Youth and Communities program does just that and is showing good success in the Oswego area.
Their efforts are being applauded by Recognizing Oswego County, a local group focused on highlighting the positive things happening in the county.
“We are thrilled to spotlight Program Director, Rae Domicolo and her amazing work with young people to empower them to make their own choices,” said ROC Chair Penny Morley.
Bridging the Gap is a 12-week program for young people ages 16-19 who have had minor offenses.
It is a model program developed by the Salvation Army in Massachusetts that has been offered in Oswego County since 2014.
Participants attend classes for three hours, two days per week. The attendance policy is strict, but those that complete the 12 week sessions receive removal of the arrest from their criminal record.
“The classes are very structured and seek to offer alternatives to risky and violent behavior. We cover many topics including anger management, self-esteem, goal setting, job seeking and healthy living,” said Rae Domicolo, program director.
According to Domicolo, the success rates are very encouraging.
She noted, “Of those that have entered the program, 85% have completed and, of those, 87% have not re-offended. We also see increased graduation rates and improved communication with parents and teachers among those youth who complete the program. By the end of the 12 weeks, I really see them transition.”
Morley, echoed how transformational the Bridging the Gap program can be.
“I have attended several graduation ceremonies and have seen how proud the students are; they seem to be lit from within. The graduation is important as it gives them the positive recognition that they have earned and may not have experienced before,” said Morley.
Recognizing Oswego County focuses on the positive efforts that are being made in the community. Each month ROC uses this recognition effort as a platform for emphasizing the wonderful work that is happening in Oswego County to promote the health and wellness of children, families and adults.
A theme is selected each month and nominations for Community Champions are solicited.
For November, Recognizing Oswego County is seeking nominations in the area of Alzheimer’s Family Support.
Nominations are due by November 2.
The nomination form is available on the Recognizing Oswego County-ROC Facebook page or by contacting [email protected]