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.”
DJJ in the Community: North Hall Middle School Discussion
In Georgia, learning about the Department of Juvenile Justice is a big part of the education curriculum in our schools. As such, there is a great interest from local schools to gain first hand experience from the men and women who work at DJJ on a daily basis. Whether it is information about juvenile justice reform or discipline in Georgia schools, school students/teachers/administrators want to know more about the role DJJ plays in helping Georgia youth navigate through difficult circumstances.
DJJ Continuous Improvement Director Chris Saxton recently visited the 8th grade students of North Hall Middle School in Gainesville. Delivering an overview presentation on the Department of Juvenile Justice, Director Saxton fielded many questions from the interested and engaged youth.
State Employee Recognition Week: Colquitt and Dougherty CSO
Story support and photos supplied by District Ten Director Laura Pike
During the first week of May, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal issued a proclamation officially designating the time as State Employee Recognition Week. This week is a time set-aside to honor the thousands of dedicated individuals who make up the State’s workforce, who make a difference in the well-being of nearly 10 million Georgians, every day.
For the Department of Juvenile Justice, its hard working employees are the lifeblood of the organization and truly deserving of praise each and every day. In southwest Georgia, employee "THANK YOU" took a tasty turn as the Colquitt Community Services Office (Colquitt CSO) hosted a pizza luncheon/ice cream social for its staff and the Dougherty Community Services Office (Dougherty CSO) had a Cinco de Mayo luncheon complete with a taco and nacho station. Each celebration also included tributes to the work ethic and dedication of all of the staff members who make the DJJ Team the best it can be. Thank you, Colquitt and Dougherty CSO staff!
(Left to Right)- LaToya Ingram, JPPS II; Lauren Carr, PA; Crystal Brown, SW RPS; Jean Ruis, RPS PA; Jessica Smith, JPPS III; Tammie Milliken, PA; Vanessa Dawson, JPPS II; and Charles Sneed, JPPS II
Crystal Brown, SW RPS (left) and Jean Ruis, RPS PA (right)
(Left to Right)- Jessica Smith, JPPS III; Tammie Milliken, PA; Vanessa Dawson, JPPS II; Charles Sneed, JPPS II; Janet Pineiro, JPM; LaToya Ingram, JPPS II, Lauren Carr, PA, and Crystal Brown, SW RPS
More from the Emanuel Project: Crisp RYDC and Muscogee YDC
Photos and background information from Nora Carter of the Emanuel Project
The success and excitement of the Department of Juvenile Justice's arts partnership with the Emanuel Project continues to grow and blossom. Recently, the students of the Crisp RYDC and Muscogee YDC took part in designing three-dimensional collages and folk art totem poles as part of an arts installment at the Crisp RYDC main facility. The symbolic nature of the creatures depicted (wolf, owl, and eagle) represent strength, wisdom, and freedom -- important ideas and concepts for the maturation of our youth.
The Emanuel Project is a visual arts program for at risk youth with current concentration on incarcerated youth. The project was initiated in response to the need to engage incarcerated youth between the ages of 12-21 in their curriculum, and to decrease behavioral incidents while increasing their self-esteem. The Emanuel Project takes a multi-dimensional approach to reaching incarcerated youth, through research based curriculum and instruction, incentive programs, art therapy and vocational programs. By utilizing the tools in each of these areas, students, instructors and facilities as a whole benefit.
The installation work at the Crisp RYDC is an important component of the Department of Juvenile Justice's PBIS program. The behavior of all of the youth who participated was exceptional as punctual attendance and positive attitudes was required. Art truly is a motivational tool for everyone who gets to experience it.
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is an evidence-based, data-driven framework proven to reduce disciplinary incidents, increase a school’s sense of safety and support improved academic outcomes. More than 19,000 U.S. schools are implementing PBIS and saving countless instructional hours otherwise lost to discipline. The premise of PBIS is that continual teaching, combined with acknowledgement or feedback of positive student behavior will reduce unnecessary discipline and promote a climate of greater productivity, safety and learning. PBIS schools apply a multi-tiered approach to prevention, using disciplinary data and principles of behavior analysis to develop school-wide, targeted and individualized interventions and supports to improve school climate for all students.
The Department of Juvenile Justice would like to thank Nora Carter and the rest of the Emanuel Project Team for their hard work and dedication to expanding the visual arts in Georgia. For more information about the Emanuel Project, visit them on the web at www.emanuelproject.org. For details on PBIS at DJJ, click on http://www.djjnewsandviews.org/pbisatdjj/.
PBIS and Rescue 2 Restore: The Rockdale RYDC is ROCK SOLID
Story support by Rockdale RYDC Volunteer Resource Coordinator Staci Hill
The Rockdale Regional Youth Detention Center (Rockdale RYDC) would like to thank the DJJ Rescue 2 Restore Team for providing their help and services to the PBIS-SOLID (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports- Strive for Excellence - Observe All Rules - Lead by Example - Initiate Positive Change - Demonstrate Success) Program. The Rescue 2 Restore Team has committed to visit the Rockdale RYDC during the first Thursday of each month to provide animal training services to the youth program participants.
DJJ implemented Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) in all DJJ Facilities February, 2013. The statewide PBIS program is helping to change the culture in DJJ facilities to a more supportive environment where youth and staff are reinforced for displaying the expected "good" behaviors posted in the facility’s local operating procedures. For the Rockdale RYDC, youth are rewarded with the ability to join the Rescue 2 Restore program if they participate in behavioral health and JDCS groups and have zero medical refusals for the recent week.
Rescue 2 Restore was established in June 2014 as a component of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, Division of Operations and Compliance, Volunteer Services. The department identified animal programming as a successful method to provide youth with life skills, while educating the youth on animal care and compassion. Behaviorally, animal programs have proven to alleviate depression and encourage good behavior. Rescue 2 Restore is responsible for building community partnerships and providing the youth with positive animal interactions and lessons.