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Riverview Foundation, Leadership and Resiliency Program
Hester W. Mishkin
The project has truly blossomed rapidly into a thriving, expanding juvenile delinquency program for high school students throughout Southern Maine. The Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group has played an essential role in developing and strengthening this needed program, not only through the grant funding but also with the guidance, supervision and professional development under Kathryn McGloin’s leadership. We look forward to continuing the positive momentum into the second contract year of the program, particularly turning our focus on the project’s sustainability and evaluation.
The Leadership and Resiliency Program (LRP) is an innovative prevention program led by Riverview Foundation aimed at preventing juvenile delinquency and substance abuse among at-risk high school students within Sagadahoc, Cumberland and York counties of Maine.
As a model for prevention, the LRP works as an intervention to prevent and minimize youth involvement in the juvenile or crimincal justice system. National research points to the fact that substance abuse and delinquency are inextricably linked; arrest, adjudication, and intervention by the juvenile justice system are eventual consequences for many young people engaged in such behavior. And declining grades, absenteeism from school, increased potential for dropping out and other school-related problems are directly associated with adolescent substance abuse. Therefore, the LRP also seeks to reduce risk factors that can potentially lead to addiction and criminality throughout a person’s. Building a sense of identity from a foundation of success is a critical component of programming and a guiding philosophical principle of the LRP; youth that experience success in adolescence will continue to seek out a success-based orientation to life as an adult.
Riverview’s LRP Project began in 2005 as a pilot program working with one area high school. With Maine JJAG’s support and the program’s success, the LRP is currently working in collaboration with six School Departments within now three Counties and has increased the maximum number of program slots from 25 to 175.
The program works specifically with the Alternative Education sites that target youth most at-risk for drop-out and failure, including high schools in Brunswick, MSAD 75, Scarborough, South Portland, MSAD 6 and Biddeford. The LRP reaches youth through a unique and engaging blend of three components; weekly skill-building sessions that include peaceful martial arts componenets and leadership development, community service projects and outdoor adventure with overnight wilderness excursions.
Year to Date:
The LRP provides an effective solution to a well-documented need, providing disadvantaged teenagers with a school-based diversion program that equips them with the skills needed to better handle the stress that often puts them most at-risk. Many are first-time offenders, yet since they are still enrolled in an academic program, are considered “resilient youth” and have the potential to cease their of juvenile corrections system. 65% of participants enrolled in last year’s program came from divorced or single-parent households.
The key resiliency areas strengthened through the LRP can be grouped into three overall target areas, with sub-categories that build participants’ attitudes, perceptions, abilities and knowledge:
The LRP has been successful in reducing school conduct incidents, reducing tobacco use, increasing school attendance, and improving academic performance among participants based on two years of program evaluations. In 2007, among 133 youth served:
This year the program is conducting a logic-based program evaluation of outcomes following training by the Muskie Institute and will be complete at the conclusion of the school year.
We invite any of you to visit one of the sites to see the program in action!
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