A new collaboration has formed to offer a positive path for a group of young men currently in detention. Called, “Your Future Starts Now,” this four-week program is organized in partnership with UMass' Extension 4-H program, Center for Human Development (CHD), Massachuestts Department of Youth Services, and the UMass Student Bridges organization.
This pilot program is an initiative that can enhance the likelihood that once the young men leave their respective programs, they will head in an upward trajectory. They are given skills that can help increase their odds of landing solidly in the job market poised towards a brighter future.
This four-week program covers topics of professionalism, entrepreneurship and leadership skills for youth, a hallmark of 4-H programs. 4-H Extension Educator Lauren DuBois, and Stacy Tchouanguem, Alisha Ross and Khalif Nunnally-Rivera of Student Bridges will facilitate this program. Guest lecturers from a variety of professions will share information about their businesses including: restaurant business, interview and resume preparation, careers working with animals and more. The men’s division of the Dress for Success organization, known as Suit Up Springfield will fit them for suits as part of the effort to establish a professional presentation leading to more independence. The goal is to get youth excited about their future and give them a them a knowledge-base for success. Through hands-on activities and motivational and engaging guest speakers the hope is that young people will be moved to take positive action over their life choices; not only by recognizing opportunities but taking advantage of those opportunities and even creating opportunities for themselves and others. A graduation ceremony will be held at the conclusion of this program, in which each young man will receive a 4-H certificate of completion, a specially-fitted suit, and the event will be catered by East Longmeadow’s Center Square Grill head chef, Andrew Brow.
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PHOTO CAPTION: "Your Future Starts Now" coordinators picutred above: L to R – Jeff Herd, Assistant Program Director, CHD; Lauren DuBois, Extension Educator, Mass Extension, 4-H; Sharon Bess, Employment Specialist, CHD; Richard Romboletti, Director of Juvenile Justice, CHD and Kimberly Lee, Vice President of Development, CHD. Photo: Ellanje Ferguson, MASS LIVE