DJJ Youth Mural at the Augusta Canal Interpretive Center DJJ Staff  at:  9/5/2012  
Views from The Art Factory’s Final Youth Project Unveiling at the Augusta Canal Interpretive Center

Recently, a striking ceramic tile mural depicting Augusta’s history, notable women and landmarks created by Department of Juvenile Justice youth was unveiled at a reception honoring its young artists. The mural is the final project of the Art Factory, a non-profit arts education organization founded to provide the Augusta community with high quality fine arts educational experiences that also promote the development of positive life skills. 

As part of the Art Factory, the Art Group was formed specifically to create the tile mural at the Augusta Canal Interpretative Center. Under the direction of Richmond County’s Cindy O’Brien, the Art Group project began when Mrs. O’Brien contacted the Department of Juvenile Justice and solicited the participation of twelve youths to assist with painting a 12 by 30 foot waterworks mural within a twelve week period. Joining forces, the Art Factory and the Augusta Water Department worked together to facilitate a remarkable, inspiring public art project. Adding to the beneficial nature of the mural, Judge Willie Saunders, working with local Department of Juvenile Justice officials, agreed to commute part of the sentences of the youths who volunteered to participate in the twelve week project. 

Since March 2012, The Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art took over responsibilities for the Art Factory and worked diligently with the Richmond County Court Service Office (CSO) to house the Art Group and assist with providing services to the youths involved with the Department of Juvenile Justice. The Richmond County CSO assigned JPPS III Cheryl Bush to oversee the youths selected to paint the mural. The Richmond CSO supervised the Art Group as a regular workshop for the youths to come together and exhibit a passion for the arts as they explore challenges in their life journey. 

The youth participating in the mural’s creation were chosen for their artistic ability and individual interest in the study of creative arts. The youth working on the project earned restorative community service hours for their participation. In addition, the mural project has proven to be an outlet for expression of creative artistic ability and individuality.

The most recent completed ceramic wall mural is being displayed at the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area Interpretive Center at Enterprise Mill. Augusta Canal National Heritage Area Interpretive Center at Enterprise Mill presents the stories of a unique piece of Augusta’s and America’s history – the 19th century industrial waterway that powered Augusta’s survival as a city. Using interactive exhibits, films, and vintage mill textile equipment, the Canal Interpretive Center that tells the story of how a city used its waterways to reinvent itself.   Daily guided tour on replica canal cargo boats offer unique glimpse of the city’s past and present.

By working together on a large creative project, the participants learned to cooperate, solve problems and communicate effectively. The work was donated to the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area so that it would have a permanent and appropriate home and allow the public an opportunity to view the piece.



     Atlanta YDC Celebrating Accomplishments DJJ Staff  at:  9/4/2012  

Atlanta YDC Celebrating Accomplishments

Atlanta YDC held our August 2012 staff meeting which was a Celebration of Accomplishments. During the meeting our very first Employee of the Month awards were presented.

We are proud to announce the August 2012 Employees of the Month: Lieutenant Jesse Arnold who received the Security Employee of the Month; Ms. Staci Hill who received the Non-Security Employee of the Month. These employees received a certificate recognizing their accomplishments, a parking space for the month and a lunch date at the Green Manor with Director Shaver and Assistant Directors Ethridge and Prewett.

Also the newly formed Hospitality and Employee Recognition Committee Members were recognized for pulling together our first food event and their commitment to taking care of the staff of Atlanta YDC. We look forward to many creative ideas and activities in the coming months. Ms. Jessica Morgan has agreed to chair both committees for consistency along with assistance from two co-chairs. Please help us congratulate our wonderful volunteers.

Mary Primrose, Co-Chair of Hospitality Committee

Janice Coolie, Secretary of Hospitality Committee
Celeste Wells
Sabrina Phillips
Amy Grant
Christel Walker
Danika Dassent
Jalesa Thornton
Lisa Thomas
Rhonda Ward
Christel Walker, Co-Chair of Employee Recognition Committee
Danika Dassent, Secretary of Employee Recognition Committee
Janice Coolie
Celeste Wells
Sabrina Phillips
Mary Primrose
Rhonda Ward

We also want to welcome back and congratulate our recent graduates. Ms. Rebecca Stewart is one of 12 graduates of DJJ’s very first class of Basic Juvenile Probation Officers Training held on August 31. Ms. Stewart received the Distinguished Honor Graduate Award with a GPA of 99.5. Way to go JPPS Stewart!

We celebrate the graduation of six of our Correctional Officers from BJCOT. Mr. Gary Gordon received special recognition for being Class Leader as well as being the recipient of the Team Spirit Award which is voted on by class peers. Way to go Officer Gordon!

We are also proud of our other BJCOT graduates and very excited to have them back at our facility: Sgt. Robert Adams, Officer Jason Byrd, Sgt. Carole Frye, Officer Roy Gray, and Officer Tony Mason.

This is just a sampling of the many accomplishments that Atlanta YDC will celebrate. DJJ has the best employees in the state and WE set our standards high. Atlanta YDC employees find joy in helping co-workers and others achieve excellence!




     Commissioner Buckner Announces Richard Ambrose Appointed New DJJ Board Member DJJ Staff  at:  8/31/2012  

(ATLANTA - GA)  The Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice is pleased to announce the appointment of a newly named DJJ Board member by Governor Nathan Deal.

Commissioner L. Gale Buckner will confirm the appointment of retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Richard S. Ambrose during the next regular DJJ Board meeting.  “We welcome Mr. Ambrose to the DJJ Board and we are pleased to partner with him as part of this team on our mission to make this a safer and more secure agency for our youth and staff,” said Commissioner Buckner.

Lt. Colonel Ambrose’s distinguished military career spans twenty years with the U.S. Army where he served overseas in Germany and did two tours of duty in Vietnam.  He is a graduate of the Army’s Airborne Ranger Schools and after retirement from the armed service, taught ROTC for thirteen years at Dooly County High School.  LTC Ambrose was commissioned a second Lieutenant of Infantry when he graduated from the ROTC program at the University of Georgia with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.

Mr. Ambrose also holds a Master’s Degree in Professional Studies from Western Kentucky University.  His extensive military education also includes the basic and advanced infantry officer’s courses and the armed forces staff college.

Board Member Richard Ambrose resides in Vienna in Dooly County, Georgia.  He is appointed to the At-Large Board position recently vacated by former Board Member Perry McGuire whose term expired last month. Commissioner Buckner expressed the agency’s appreciation for Board Member McGuire’s service to the Department of Juvenile Justice on the DJJ Board.

The DJJ Board is composed of fifteen members representing each Congressional District in the state. DJJ Board members are appointed by the Governor and provide leadership and guidance to the Commissioner in an advisory capacity to the Department of Juvenile Justice.




     Newnan Choir Visits Eastman RYDC DJJ Staff  at:  8/31/2012  


Residents and staff at Eastman Regional Youth Detention Center enjoyed an afternoon gospel music on Wednesday, June 6, 2012. The Senior High Choir from First Baptist Church of Newnan, Georgia performed at the facility as part of their annual mission tour. The choir group consists of young men and women in grades 9-12. Under the leadership of Reverend Lee Chitwood, Minister of Music, the choir travels throughout the state and internationally to share God’s love through music. At Eastman RYDC, the choir performed “Paul and Silas Tour 2012” which included singing, hand bells, guitars and other instruments.

The Eastman Regional Youth Detention Center would like to thank the Senior High Choir from the First Baptist Church for performing and setting the "tone" for a positive influence on DJJ youth.

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     Carrollton Times-Georgian News Story: At Ag Center, youths learn to grow what they eat DJJ Staff  at:  8/20/2012  
Carrollton Times-Georgian News Story: At Ag Center, youths learn to grow what they eat 

At Ag Center, youths learn to grow what they eat

by Winston Jones/Times-Georgian

Many kids have no knowledge about where their food comes from, other than it was purchased at a supermarket or picked up at a fast-food restaurant on the way home.

Michelle Lewis, a Carroll County Extension Service agent, started the Youth Garden Project, as a pilot program, this past spring to help kids ages 12-17 have a better understanding of their food and its origins. During their participation in the program, the youths plan a garden, grow their own vegetables and then prepare a meal, using food from their garden.

“This program is really dear to my heart because so much of my work is involved with what children eat,” Lewis said. “They are so far removed from what they eat.”

She said the idea for the project came last fall when she was asked by Vickie Fulbright of the Youth Connection if some of the group’s participants could do their community service work at the county Ag Center on Newnan Road in Carrollton. Lewis said the suggestion was that they could help pull some weeds or pick up trash.

“I wanted to come up with a program where they could learn something,” Lewis said. “I thought it would be good if they could create their own gardens, learn where food comes from and how to cook it.”

So Lewis designed the Youth Garden Project and was able to fund it with a grant from Master Gardeners.

“April 7 was our first day,” she said. “A bus, with six youths from Youth Connection and the Department of Juvenile Justice, arrived here. Most of the kids in the program have done some minor offenses, none are felons. They just made some bad choices and needed to do community service.”

She said some of the first day’s work was spent at the Master Gardeners’ building, which is used during Heritage Days. Helping out with the program were two interns from University of West Georgia and a Master Gardener volunteer, who enjoys working with youth.

The kids began learning how to design and build their own garden plots, she said.

“I taught them how to square off the area for the garden into a 12-by-12-foot space,” she said. “Within that area, there were four 4-by-4-foot plots.”

She said some of the kids were not familiar with folding rules and tape measures and had to be taught how to use them to measure off distances.

“I told them, ‘This is your garden and your project,’” she said. “They asked if they could name them (the individual plots) and I said, ‘Absolutely.’ They chose the names, Flintstone, Indian, Bedrock and T.”

Lewis said the youth also jointly created a herb garden, in addition to their individual plots.

The kids laid out the rows, planted the seeds and weeded the plots. Eventually, harvest time came around.

“The very first vegetable out of the garden was a radish,” Lewis said. “One girl asked what we were going to do with it. I asked her if she liked radishes and she said, ‘No.’ It had dirt on it, so she washed it off. She tasted it, then ate it all.”

The big day came on July 22 when the group had “Pizza Day.” They used vegetables from their gardens to bake individual pizzas.

“All the produce came from their gardens,” Lewis said. “They used their vegetables for toppings and their herbs. The ingredients were supplemented with some tomatoes and peppers from the inmate garden. Everything, the crust and all, were made from scratch.”

But the project doesn’t just involve working in the gardens. The group also takes field trips to learn about various kinds of food. One such journey was to the goat farm at the Capra Gia Cheese Company on Shady Grove Road, near Carrollton.

“They had an opportunity to feed and milk the goats and make cheese,” Lewis said. A similar trip to an alpaca farm is being planned for this fall.

Lewis said what pleases her the most about the project is that it’s working.

“We had a couple of youth, who completed their community service, and asked to come back as volunteers,” she said. “That totally made my day.”

Lewis hopes the project can be expanded locally and maybe used as a model for other counties to start similar programs. Most of all, she loves that it’s making a difference in the youths’ lives.

“These are good kids,” she said. “They just got into trouble because they had too much time on their hands.”

Lewis said an entry in one boy’s journal, which all keep as part of the program, brought tears to her eyes.

“This has changed my life,” he wrote of the project. “I’m making new friends.”

Read more: Times-Georgian - At Ag Center youths learn to grow what they eat

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