Rockdale RYDC Volunteer Services Community Engagement
On May 17th, Leadership Rockdale had a Community Engagement Opportunity at the Conyers First United Methodist Church. Members of the Rockdale Regional Youth Detention Center (Rockdale RYDC) were in attendance to recruit volunteers for the facility and to speak with political and community leaders from across Rockdale County.
The Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Rockdale program is an annual class consisting of diverse and qualified individuals. The program provides a learning environment that enhances personal and professional growth to benefit the community and its region.
Leadership Rockdale is an educational experience rather than a program of advocacy. It deals with issues facing our community, state and nation. The participants in Leadership Rockdale profit from getting to know each other and from the formal and informal exchange of ideas and experiences. They gain knowledge and understanding from authorities on a wide variety of subjects such as governmental organization, education and private enterprise. Thus, Leadership Rockdale prepares them for a more active role in the affairs of the community.
With a strong foundation of active participants, DJJ is grateful to it's many volunteers who play a vital role to improve the lives of young offenders in our juvenile facilities and in our communities. The Volunteer Services Program is responsible for the recruitment and screening of prospective volunteers, as well as their orientation and training. Volunteers with DJJ serve in a variety of capacities in all Regional Youth Detention Centers (RYDC), Youth Detention Centers (YDC), and Court Services and Supervision Offices (CSO), throughout Georgia.
Rescue-2-Restore's National Support Service Education Grant is helping Department of Juvenile Justice youth learn about wildlife issues around the world while teaching practical marketing and business skills to be used in our local communities. Recently, the youth of the Sumter Youth Development Center (Sumter YDC) launched a Wildlife Protection Campaign to help educate the public on the threat of animal extinction (specifically the rhinoceros) and the private agencies dedicated to stopping poaching in the wild.
To help with these efforts, the Sumter YDC youth have designed and are selling t-shirts with all proceeds benefitting Saving the Survivors, a non-profit organization dedicated to caring for rhinos who have fallen victim to poaching. T-shirts cost $20 and can be purchased at:
In developing the project, the Sumter YDC youth researched and produced a Power Point presentation which highlights the threat posed by poaching and the organizations that working to fight poaching around the globe. To help with their research, the Sumter YDC youth visited Zoo Atlanta where they experienced a "behind the scenes" meeting with the resident rhinoceros, Andazi. Hand feeding the two ton rhino sweet potato slices, the youth learned from zoo keepers what it takes to keep a rhinoceros healthy and happy in captivity.
DJJ Commissioner Avery Niles on the Barbara Dooley Show on June 1st
Reporting and story photos from Communication Manager Jim Shuler
“..the Barbara Dooley Show is not about sports..”
DJJ Commissioner Avery D. Niles will be the featured interview during the first week of June on the “Barbara Dooley Show” broadcast from Athens, Georgia. Aside from being the home of a dynamic college football team, Athens is also the home of a unique radio talk show heard most mornings on WGAU-1340 AM and WRFC-960AM.
(Editor’s Note: The popular radio talk show is hosted by the wife of a former UGA athletic director and head football coach, also named Dooley. But by some quirk of fate, the Barbara Dooley Show is not about sports.)
Instead, host Barbara Dooley is known for her wide variety of guests and topics, her direct interview style, and her high energy segments. She has an on-air reputation for expressing her opinions freely – sometimes witty, sometimes entertaining, but always engaging.
In his interview, Commissioner Niles talks about the Georgia Preparatory Academy, the positive effects of Governor Nathan Deal’s juvenile justice reform, and the growing success of the DJJ youth Reentry Program.
Commissioner Niles says he remains committed to the concept that Education is the KEY for Georgia’s youth making successful reentry into their communities for a productive, law-abiding life. Niles says, “..we will continue to focus on ‘changing the lives of DJJ youth through quality education.” The Commissioner’s interview with Barbara Dooley is scheduled Wednesday, June 1st from 8:50am-9:00am.
DJJ in the Community: Beat the Streets and the Gwinnett Braves
Special thanks to Latera Davis and Scott Cagle for story support and photographs of the event
On April 29th, youth and representatives from the Department of Juvenile Justice's Beat the Streets program were given a special tour of the Gwinnett Braves (G-Braves) stadium, CoolRay Field, in Lawrenceville. The G-Braves are the AAA affiliate team for the Atlanta Braves.
Beat the Streets is a FREE 11-week incentive-based running program modeled after Atlanta Track Club’s successful Kilometer Kids healthy exercise initiative. Atlanta Track Club specifically tailored the running program for youth housed at DJJ facilities. Enrolled youth accept the challenge to try to run 26.2 miles, the length of a marathon, over the course of the program. To keep them motivated, the youth will have a chance to earn incentive prizes along the way. The tour of the Gwinnett Braves facility was one such incentive prize.
Atlanta Track Club launched Kilometer Kids in 2007 with a focus on inspiring Atlanta youth to achieve health and fitness through a fun and supportive running program. Kilometer Kids was designed to empower children with the knowledge they need to make smart lifestyles choices. The program has grown significantly from small beginnings in 2007 and now impacts more than 5,000 children each year in the Atlanta region and beyond.
The VIP tour of CoolRay Field was led by Gwinnett Braves General Manager North Johnson and Assistant General Manager Shari Massengill. The Beat the Streets youth were shown the ins and outs of the entire G-Braves facility including the Executive Suites, Media/Press box, Concessions, Locker rooms, Gym, and Dugouts. Just like professional baseball players, the yout were also allowed to walk through the tunnel and onto the coveted field! A special treat of the tour was when General Manager Johnson challenged each youth to take a few swings in the in-door batting cages.
As part of the experience, the Beat the Streets youth learned about the complexity and all the different jobs it takes on a daily basis to stage an AAA game for the Gwinnett Braves. Coach Brian Snitker who was just promoted to Manager of the Atlanta Braves, also visited with the youth. Coach Snitker spoke about life in the big leagues and spending forty years in the Braves organization.
DJJ would like to thank Gwinnett Braves General Manager North Johnson and Assistant General Manager Shari Massengill for making the Beat the Streets tour possible. For more information on the Gwinnett Braves, visit them at www.gwinnettbraves.com. Learn more about DJJ's Beat the Streets Program at http://www.djjnewsandviews.org/beatthestreets/.
Georgia the rescue dog is a welcome visitor at the Macon Youth Development Center.
The small tan and white pit bull mix stretched out on the gymnasium floor Tuesday as two of the girls petted her soft coat.
“It’s soothing because I love animals. They keep me calm,” said Danielle Wagoner, who ends her three-year confinement next week.
Over the past year, eight of the young women incarcerated in the east Bibb county facility off Riggins Mill Road have taken their love of animals a step further.
Through the Rescue2Restore grant-funded program, they are the first in the state to complete a Stop Animal Cruelty Campaign
The girls selected a service-learning mission, developed the campaign and designed T-shirts that were sold online to raise $920 for the Pet Buddies Food Pantry, a non-profit organization that assists low-income families struggling to take care of their beloved pets.
The students traveled to an animal shelter, visited the zoo and attended an Atlanta road race and dog walk where they collected signatures on pledges to combat animal abuse. Brittany Deysher wrote a poem pledge to stop cruelty.
“We exploit them, treat them as property, yet they are God’s gift too,” Brittany read during Tuesday’s Victory over Animal Cruelty Celebration.
“We’re so proud of these young ladies and what they’ve been able to accomplish,” said Margaret Giammetta, who works with the GED program at the YDC. They set out to sell 50 shirts and sold 73 as of Tuesday.
Aunae Meredith, of Atlanta, who’s spent four years with the Department of Juvenile Justice, was handing Georgia treats after the celebration in the YDC gym. “I love laying on the ground, rolling with them, you know, playing with them, treating them to nice things,” Aunae said.
The girls also baked dog treats and made braided tug toys.
Georgia and other therapy dogs also have been helping remedial readers.
Chrissy Kaczynski, who works with the DJJ Rescue2Restore program across the state, said even students at the third grade reading level can relax and make strides in their comprehension while petting the animals.
The goal is to build kennels for a dog training program on the Macon campus where young women can take in abused and neglected dogs and nurse them back to health so they can be adopted. Julie Motley, of Walker County, who has been at the YDC two years, would love to help care for the animals.
“I’ve learned not everything’s got to be about me and these animals have feelings, just like us,” Julie said.
Kaczynski said the program teaches patience and helps the girls learn to care for something else.
“Kids have said… they didn’t really know how to love or care for anyone because they weren’t taught that growing up and it got them into trouble,” Kacynski said. Those skills are transferred to other aspects of their life.
Matt Montgomery, with the DJJ Office of Communications said: “I’ve seen a transformation in some of the kids… There’s a real bonding experience between the dogs and the kids.”