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The goal of the anger management group is to help youth develop skills to handle their anger. The staff helps youth work through hypothetical and real life problems to develop solutions. When the youth are equipped with the skills they learned in this anger management group, they will be able to be more successful in their daily lives.
The goal of the Applying Science group is to teach basic science to the kids and to give them an opportunity to engage in fun science experiments. For example, during one of our Applying Science groups, the youths learned about acids and bases and then got to make water bottle rockets out of baking soda and vinegar.
Balanced and Restorative Justice
The goal of the Balanced and Restorative Justice group is to help youth repair relationships between the victim, offender, and community. It teaches the value of making reparations for one’s actions and encourages them to make up for their actions by giving back to the victim and the community. It also prompts discussions on how one person’s actions can have an effect on many different people.
Basic Dog Handling
The Basic Dog Handling group is divided into two parts. The first part consists of mostly in-class education about dog training and teaching dogs basic commands such as sit and stay. For the second part of the group, the kids get to go to the Humane Society where they can interact with the dogs and see what they have learned about in action.
Basic Sign Language
Basic Sign Language is presented by Kyla Garner, a former intern at the Greene County Juvenile Office. This group focuses on basic sign language such as the alphabet, numbers, colors, animals, etc. Kyla also helps the youth to make basic phrases out of the words that they learn during the group.
The Basic Spanish group teaches the youths some very basic Spanish words and phrases. For example, one week might be focused on basic phrases such as “thank you” or “how are you?” while the next week might focus on a topic such as colors or days of the week. This group will certainly not teach the youths to be fluent in Spanish, but it does give them a greater understanding of what it is like to speak another language.
Bully Awareness is a group designed to help youth gain a better understanding about who bullies are and why they do the things they do. The group also talks about what to do and how to help if someone else is being bullied. Additionally, in this group, the kids learn how they can stop the spreading of bullying and how they can help those who have been the victims of bullying.
The business design group gives the youths an opportunity to create their own business. For this group they must develop a business plan that includes applying for loans, their desired number of employees and how much they will pay them, the cost of their good or service, and the location of their business. After developing their business plan, the youths are given an opportunity to develop and present a PowerPoint presentation about their business.
The Chess group gives our youths an opportunity to play games, but with a more strategic focus. Chess is a difficult game and certainly one that requires a lot of thinking and strategy. By teaching our youth to play chess and giving them opportunities to play against each other, we are helping them to develop valuable strategic thinking skills that they can apply to other aspects of their lives.
This group allows youth to understand the workings of our government and legal system. Youth gain knowledge of our country's election process, law-making procedure, naturalization process, and the Constitution of the United States. This objectively taught group emphasizes the importance of having a strong knowledge of our government. This group is facilitated by Lee Shelton, Greene County Juvenile Office Victim Witness Coordinator.
Community Engagement gives the youths an opportunity to go out in the community and work with the ERC’s community partners. One of the ERC’s biggest community engagement opportunities is using the track and fields at nearby Drury University for our workouts. The kids really enjoy getting an opportunity to run around the track or to do their exercises on the field. Additionally, sometimes the Community Engagement group involves going to a park or the Nature Center to give the kids an opportunity to get out and around in Springfield.
The coping skills group helps give youth a better understanding of how to handle difficult situations. During the group the youth might be put through several stressful hypothetical scenarios that they have to work through. This helps them to be able to better handle real life stressful situations.
The Creative Writing group was designed to be a week long group, occurring in the first hour as the youths are arriving at the ERC. Over the course of the week, they are tasked with writing a ten page short story to be presented at the end of the week. They are allowed to write about anything they choose, so long as it is appropriate. This gives them a great opportunity to be creative and express themselves.
The goal of the current events group is to help the youth understand the importance of keeping up with the news and knowing what is going on in the world around them. This may be done through the use of USA Today newspapers or the internet. This group helps youth to be knowledgeable about what is happening in the world and the effects that it can have on their lives and the lives of others.
This group was designed to help the kids gain a greater appreciation for fine arts, such as music. The group also teaches about different styles of dance, such as ballet and contemporary dance. It also gave the kids an opportunity to develop choreographed dances and teach them to others.
The Dietetics group is taught by a group of volunteers from Missouri State University. They teach the youths about the importance of eating healthy and how it can affect many different areas of their lives. They also talk to our youths about what they should be eating to stay healthy and what types of nutrients can be found in different foods.
The diversity group helps the youths to learn about those who are different from themselves. It works to educate the youths about different cultures and different ways of life. The goal of this group is to help them feel more comfortable around people who are different from them and to embrace the differences of others.
The Diversity Writing group is very similar to the Creative Writing group. It is also a week long group where the youths have an opportunity to work on the project a little bit every day. For this group the youths are required to pick a culture or religion and write a research paper about it. They are given opportunities to research their topic throughout the week and they are required to present their project to the rest of the group at the end of the week.
ERC Gives Back
The ERC Gives Back group provides youths with an opportunity to give back to the community through volunteer service. One of the ERC’s most popular volunteer projects is our Adopt-a-Street on Pythian Street between National and Glenstone. The kids enjoy getting to go out and walk the street and they take pride in keeping it clean. Another of our ongoing projects is with Arc of the Ozarks, where we fold and stuff their newsletters for them every month.
The Expressive Arts group is presented by Juvenile Probation Officer Jamie Raab. This group focuses on using art to improve one’s mood and to gain a better understanding of the world. The projects in this group may focus on the youth’s goals and aspirations in life or they may just be designed to help the youth blow off steam and relax.
Finding a Hobby
Finding a Hobby is a group that encourages youths to develop a hobby or to find something that they are interested in. This group teaches that hobbies can be used as a type of coping skill to help the youths avoid the stress and pressures of their everyday lives. It teaches them to develop a hobby that will help them to stay busy and out of trouble.
The First Aid group is facilitated by two students from the MSU nursing program. This group ranges from the basics of first aid, such as treating cuts and burns, to more serious aspects, such as household chemicals and poison control. This also provides the youth with an opportunity to tell the nurses specifically what they want to learn about and to ask questions that may be more relevant to their everyday lives.
Gender responsive programming is geared towards youth based on gender. This group discusses gender stereotypes and the differences between how men and women are treated in society. It also works to build respect for the opposite gender and teaches the youths to appreciate the differences between genders.
Getting Involved for Today’s Students (GIFTS)
G.I.F.T.S. Coordinator-Tom Gist
Getting Involved For Today's Students (G.I.F.T.S) is the educational component of the Greene County Juvenile Court's Evening Reporting Center (ERC). G.I.F.T.S. is funded through a DESE grant in partnership with Springfield Public Schools.
G.I.F.T.S. focuses on meeting the educational needs of the students. The first priority is to help students to be successful in school, ACT, and GED preparation. If the child is not in school, we can work with Greene County School Districts on getting them back in school. Individualized instruction takes place as students work on homework, prepare for tests, or use computers to address specific learning goals. Three days a week group lessons are taught over concepts basic to the understanding of literature, math, and writing. Lessons are inter-active involving students in group learning activities that require the participation of all students. The program is flexible and the curriculum is adjusted to the needs of the students. Progress on educational goals is measured through the monitoring of grades and the use of pre- and post-tests.
The goals group helps youth to develop their own goals for the future. They learn about short-term and long-term goals and strategies that they can use to achieve these goals. This group helps them to decide what they want in their lives and how they can get it. It also helps them to look at what behaviors they need to change in their lives in order to achieve these goals.
Healthy Relations group begins by examining the many different types of relationships present in our lives. These include relationships with family and friends as well as romantic relationships. From there, the staff focuses on one type of relationship at a time, discussing the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships. They also talk about how to promote effective communication and understanding within relationships.
The housekeeping group gives youths the opportunity to keep their environment clean. It is the responsibility of the kids to make sure that the trash is taken out, the floors are swept and mopped, and the bathrooms are clean. This is done once or twice a week to ensure that the building stays clean.
Interviewing for Success
Interviewing for Success builds onto the Job Skills group. This group teaches the youth proper interviewing techniques. We discuss the types of questions that interviewers may ask as well as how to answer them. We also talk about appropriate attire for an interview. This group helps the youths to be more successful in interviews, but it also teaches them how to be more professional in their everyday lives.
This group is dedicated to helping participants construct resumes and cover letters for the purpose of gaining employment. The participants also learn how to fill out applications, dress appropriately, and also how to conduct themselves in an interview. The Missouri State University Enactus team members volunteer their time and services to facilitate this group.
In Judicial Process, we discuss the judicial system and the court process. This gives the youths a better understanding of how the system works from the time that someone enters the system to the time that they are found guilty or not guilty. This information is relevant to many of the kids in the program and it helps them to get a better grasp on what is going on with their own cases. This group also highlights several of the differences between the adult and juvenile system.
MRT stands for Moral Reconation Therapy. MRT began in 1986 in prisons. Many inmates helped in deciding how the program should be done. MRT is used in over 30 states. The word "reconation" has to do with how we make our decisions. MRT tries to help people make decisions by doing what is right. MRT started as an adult program and Juvenile MRT was created as a result of the success of the adult program.
The Leadership group is facilitated by Juvenile Probation Officer Damon Young. Some of the topics covered by this group include various leadership styles, where leadership can be found in daily life, and how the youth can practice leadership. The goal of this group is to increase the youth’s self-confidence and help them to realize that they can be leaders in their own lives.
The Milgram Study group focuses around a behavioral study conducted by Stanley Milgram in 1963. The experiment studied the effect of authority on average individuals to see what lengths they would go to in order to follow the directions they were given by an authority figure. During the group, we watch a short video explaining the study and then hold a discussion with the kids about their thoughts on the experiment and its results. Generally the youths are very surprised by the results of the study which leads to some fantastic group discussions. This group really helps the youths to understand authority and how question it in an appropriate manner.
Mixed Martial Arts
The Mixed Marital Arts (MMA) group teaches youths the importance of discipline and staying healthy. Rather than focusing on actual fighting skills, the group focuses on teaching youths the discipline required to perfect a technique. Lessons from this group can be applied in many other aspects of life by focusing on self-discipline and learning to take the time necessary to perfect certain skills.
Moral Decision Making
Moral Decision Making presents the youths with an opportunity to test their morals and ethics in various scenarios. For this group, the youths are presented with a situation where someone has to make a difficult decision, such as whether or not to commit a crime. Then the youth is asked several questions about the scenario and what they would do if they were in that situation. This gives the youth an opportunity to question their own morals and to learn more about themselves.
The Personal Finance group helps youths to better understand how to take care of their money. This group helps youths learn how to make a basic budget and how to manage bank accounts. This group also teaches youths about the risks of using pawn shops and pay day loans in an effort to obtain additional income.
Personal Hygiene was developed to educate our youth and help them to develop better personal hygiene habits. This group discusses the basics of personal hygiene such as showering regularly, brushing teeth, and washing hands. The youths generally already know most of the information in this group, but it is a good way to reinforce good habits and to help them understand the consequences of having bad hygiene.
The Public Speaking group helps youths to become more comfortable with speaking in front of others. This group requires them to develop a short speech, typically on a topic of their choosing, and present it to the group. Then the group will critique the speech in an effort to help the youth improve his or her public speaking ability.
The RADAR Presentations are put on by Nick Pleshka, a Juvenile Probation Officer and the President of Reacting Appropriately to Drug and Alcohol Referrals (RADAR). These presentations focus on the dangers of substance abuse physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. This group also includes occasional guest speakers who come and speak to the youth about substance abuse.
The Sex Ed group is put on by two MSU nursing students. The main topics covered in this group are anatomy, contraception, healthy relationships, and STIs. Education on these topics will require discussion on things such as abstinence, condoms, birth control, and the appearance of sexually transmitted infections.
The Social Media group works to educate youth on the dangers of social media. During this group we discuss all types of social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest. We talk a lot about what is appropriate to post on social media and what is better left unsaid. We also discuss the privacy settings on social media and making sure that everyone’s social media pages are as secure as they can be.
During the Speaker’s Bureau group, the ERC welcomes guest speakers from various agencies to speak with the kids. In past Speaker’s Bureaus we have had speakers from Harmony House, Missouri Highway Patrol, and Family Violence Center. For this group, we often invite other organizations such as RADAR and GEMS to sit in and listen to the guest speaker.
Substance Abuse is facilitated by the MSU nursing program. The group is divided into four hour long components focusing on alcohol, synthetic drugs, illegal drugs, and legal drugs. The lecture and discussions of this group will mainly focus on the dangers of these drugs and their potential health problems.
The Sugar is Wrong
This group teaches the youths about the amount of sugar found in the foods that they eat every day. The goal of this group is to educate the youths so that they can make better decisions about what they are eating. By teaching them about the amount of sugar they are consuming, we can help them to make more educated decisions about the food they are putting into their bodies.
Stanford Prison Experiment
The Stanford Prison Experiment group was modeled after the Milgram Study group. For this group, the youths watch a short video explaining the Stanford Prison Experiment, an experiment that studied how people adapt to the roles they are given, such as prisoners and prison guards. After the video, the group engages in discussion about their thoughts on the experiment and how it can be related back to real life.
Talking with Parents
This group was designed in an effort to help create more open and effective communication between our youth and their parents. Many of our youth have trouble speaking to their parents and finding common ground with them. The goal of this group is for the youths to develop a better understanding of what their parents are going through and how to talk to them.
The time management group focuses on teaching youth how to effectively manage their time and how to stay organized. In this group, we discuss the amount of time that the kids spend on various activities. From there we talk about how they can move some activities around or reallocate some time to make their schedules more efficient. We also talk about what things are worth spending time on and what things are not.
Typing Skills was designed to help the youths in the ERC to improve their typing skills. For this group, they work on the computers for an hour or so each day for one week in an effort to improve their typing skills. To do this they are allowed to do online typing courses, play typing games, and take typing tests. The youths take one typing test at the beginning of the week and another at the end of the week so that they can see how much they have improved.
Understanding Law Enforcement
The Understanding Law Enforcement group focuses on improving relations between ERC youth and local police officers. For this group an officer from the Springfield Police Department or the Greene County Sheriff’s Department comes to the ERC to speak to the youth. The officer engages with the kids by telling them about his job and how he got there as well as answering any questions that they may have.
"Teach to Inspire Yoga Education Outreach Program is dedicated to providing the therapeutic benefits of yoga practice to those who might not otherwise be able to come to a yoga class. As part of our teacher training program providing classes to the ERC is a benefit to students as well as the kids in the program." - Beth from Teach to Inspire Yoga Education Outreach Program
The youth workout is designed to teach discipline and group accountability. At the ERC we engage in several different types of work outs including strength training, cardio, and a cross fit style workout. During these workouts, the youth are taught discipline and that they should always give 100% of their effort.