YouthZone intern impressed by PALS, justice programs |

YouthZone intern impressed by PALS, justice programs

Courtney Dunn
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Coming in to YouthZone as an intern, I was absolutely thrilled to have been given such an amazing opportunity to learn more about what I’m most passionate about, helping people.

I was excited to get started but I was also extremely nervous because I was just getting out of school and I had no idea what to expect. I’ve always known that I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives but I wasn’t sure how I wanted to do that.

I’ve been at YouthZone for about a month now, and this remarkable program and staff has helped me realize exactly where my place is in the helping profession, and that’s working with kids.

YouthZone’s belief is that there is no such thing as a bad kid, just kids that make bad choices. This has significantly impacted me – there really is no such thing as a bad kid.

A young person needs someone on their side; they need someone to recognize their strengths and genuinely care about them and believe in them for them to be successful. This is what YouthZone is about.

Through prevention and intervention programs, YouthZone provides advocacy and direct services to best meet youth and family needs. A few of the YouthZone programs that I have become familiar with that have greatly influenced me are the Restorative Justice program and the PALS Mentoring program.

The Restorative Justice program is an option for youth who are suitable. It’s an opportunity for the youth, his or her family, the victim, a community member, and two facilitators to come to an agreement as to how the youth can repair the damage done to everyone at hand, including themselves.

Restorative justice is inspirational to me because it can change a youth’s perception on what they did. Sometimes a person doesn’t realize how their actions can affect the people around them, the community and themselves. I also think restorative justice is a great program because a person has to take responsibility for their actions and everyone has a chance to tell their story – it restores trust and it brings closure.

The PALS Mentoring program brings adult and teen volunteers together with youth that could benefit from a positive role model. PALS’ focus is on doing fun and enriching activities together. This program is great because it’s important for a young person to have support, positive guidance, encouragement and someone who is able to listen to them.

When I was younger I had an adult mentor and it was a very rewarding experience for me. We had an amazing relationship and she had a drastic impact on my childhood. I met her in elementary school and we continue to keep in touch.

YouthZone’s mission to provide opportunities for youth to be responsible and to enhance the quality of life in the Roaring Fork Valley makes it an incredible program for our community. I wish that there were more programs like YouthZone in other communities. I’m looking forward to taking the information that I gain from YouthZone and using it to be an excellent human service professional in the future. I’m excited for the rest of my summer here at YouthZone.

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