“You don’t want to have a level to be compassionate and to know and perceive and empathize with a teenager,” Yearwood mentioned. “I believe that folks do not faucet into their human facet or their childhood self sufficient in order that they will relate [to young people]. Individuals at all times assume, I did not have this shared expertise with this younger particular person, so I am unable to relate. However should you actually simply get previous that and dig slightly deeper, you notice that you’ve got a lot perception to supply younger people who find themselves experiencing traumatic childhood experiences.”
Yearwood partnered with Dr. Lauren Shure of Barry College to create the curriculum for the interactive program. Shure is this system’s lead psychological well being specialist and is taken into account by Yearwood to be a “important anchor” to this system’s success. The pair initially piloted this system for 2 years in Miami, Florida, earlier than formally launching it in two New York juvenile detention facilities for younger males—Horizon Juvenile Detention Middle within the Bronx and Crossroads Juvenile Middle in Brooklyn—in July. This system is essentially distant, so there was no want to regulate it to stick to COVID-19 protocols. Although the curriculum isn’t gender-specific, Yearwood says she was particularly excited to work with younger males.
“After I consider organizations that actually work for younger folks, they typically give attention to younger women,” Yearwood mentioned. “It was actually superior to have the ability to have a second to essentially give attention to younger males … I believe we do not give younger males sufficient credit score for his or her openness and for his or her means to be tender and susceptible once you give them house.”
Any program in juvenile detention facilities should first be cleared by directors, and happily for Yearwood, she had an acquaintance working at a detention middle who had learn the guide and championed this system to be carried out. As soon as this system is cleared, the amenities lease this system for one yr. Subsequent, workers is skilled onsite by Yearwood on the fabric throughout the guide and tips on how to navigate discussions.
“I prepare them on this system to allow them to begin to perceive and put together themselves for the shifts and the modifications that these younger individuals are going to face once they’re studying this guide,” Yearwood mentioned. “This system goes to make them be introspective and make them take into consideration their previous and future, each of which will be actually exhausting and intense, particularly for a teenager nonetheless navigating and studying who they’re.”
As soon as this system is picked up at a website, participation is required. This system solely accepts 30 individuals per 10-week cycle, and roughly three to 4 cycles are doable in a one-year interval. Individuals have interaction in weekly chapter reads and are anticipated to reply questions and prompts on the finish of every part of the guide. The questions and prompts cowl matters associated to household relationships, forgiveness, shallowness, and self-image. Although she isn’t within the room through the discussions, Yearwood nonetheless finds a technique to join with the teenagers. The individuals are proven a video of Yearwood answering every of the questions within the guide, the place she opens up about herself and her private experiences.
“I needed to guarantee that I created a program that did not simply give these youngsters a guide and say, ‘Y’all go forward and do your required studying,’” Yearwood mentioned. “If we all know something about self work, we all know that if we are able to keep away from it, we are going to. That is why you’ve folks of their 30s, 40s, and 50s nonetheless working via issues that they had once they had been 15 years outdated.”
The solutions to the workbook questions are despatched over to the mentors on Yearwood’s workforce, who replicate on the responses and write a letter again about what they interpreted from the solutions in that chapter. Since youth counselors typically cope with heavy workloads and oversee tons of of children at a time, Yearwood needed to make sure individuals in her program acquired extra one-on-one consideration. This system supplies one mentor for each three individuals, so every teen is ready to obtain customized suggestions and a spotlight all through this system.
“[The mentor’s response] could possibly be one thing like, ‘What’s up, Tommy? I liked the way in which you talked about your self once you described your self as good and vibrant. I used to seek out it exhausting to seek out constructive phrases for myself,’” Yearwood mentioned. “They will additionally give them some recommendation and a few encouragement to go on all through the week.”
Mentorship is without doubt one of the key elements of this system, and helps teenagers obtain assist as they study extra about themselves and their ambitions. Every mentor is vetted and skilled beneath Yearwood’s firm, Crew Ohhh. Mentors are chosen fastidiously primarily based on their background and are paired up with a detainee of their identical race to allow them to higher relate to the teenagers’ experiences.
“If youngsters see themselves in you and might relate to you, they will increase on themselves,” Yearwood mentioned.
If a mentor suspects their mentee wants extra assist primarily based on their responses, they’ll schedule a while for them to talk to a psychological well being specialist who can deal with their wants. The workforce’s psychological well being specialists additionally collect information about how every teen responds to every chapter so as to enhance the effectiveness of this system and supply extra detailed suggestions on the finish of the ten weeks.
Thus far, this system is simply provided in two juvenile detention facilities in New York, however Yearwood’s 2021 purpose is to implement this system in a minimum of six detention facilities. Her long-term purpose is to increase it into each college and juvenile detention middle within the nation. Within the meantime, she has some recommendation for younger individuals who really feel tossed apart or are experiencing hardship:
“Adversity births legends,” Yearwood mentioned. “Be as daring as you’ll be able to and don’t ask for permission to be nice.”
Carolyn Copeland is a duplicate editor and workers reporter for Prism. She covers racial justice and tradition. Comply with her on Twitter @Carolyn_Copes.
Prism is a BIPOC-led nonprofit information outlet that facilities the folks, locations and points at present underreported by our nationwide media. By means of our authentic reporting, evaluation, and commentary, we problem dominant, poisonous narratives perpetuated by the mainstream press and work to construct a full and correct report of what’s taking place in our democracy. Comply with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.