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Celebrating Summer Youth Programs

The Justice Center played host yesterday to two celebrations of the amazing young people that we have worked with this summer. Our first event was the graduation of sixteen interns from our High School Summer Internship Program.  The seven-week program involved two weeks of training at the Justice Center in skills like resume and cover letter writing, interviewing, and other skills necessary to succeed in the working world. For the following five weeks, interns were placed in a variety of sites throughout our catchment area including the Groundswell Community Mural Project, Community Board 7, The Diamond Law Firm, The Red Hook Star Revue, Youth Made Media, the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, Fireflies New York, Caselnova Restaurant, Beth Elohim Summer Camp, and SUNY Downstate Medical Center. Family, friends, internship supervisors, and Justice Center staff all came together to congratulate the interns on their hard work. A highlight of the event was hearing from the interns themselves on what they gained through the internship program: Justina, describing her experience working on a mural in East New York through the Groundswell Community Mural Project, told the audience that “everybody was proud, and it gave us more confidence in ourselves and our work. Sasha, in addition to working on a number of challenging projects at the Diamond Law Firm, “learned from my supervisor that you shouldn’t let anybody tell you what you can do, and who you can be.”  And Gregory, intern at Youth Made Media, perhaps best summed up our goals for the program when he described how “this program helped me grow as a person, and take a step forward towards what I want to do with my career.”

Our second celebration of the day was in honor of the hard work the 11-13 year old participants did in our JustARTS Summer Drawing program. This art program is part of the Red Hook Community Justice Center’s Positive Youth Justice Initiative, which reframes the conversation about juvenile delinquency. Instead of pathologizing court-involved youth and adolescent behavior, we work to serve all young people within a positive youth development framework, which draws on their strengths and contributions to their communities. The art exhibit was attended by the participants’ friends and family members, Justice Center staff, and Joan Eastmond, Community Liaison of the 18th District Office of Senator Velmanette Montgomery.  Juvenile Justice Corps member and teaching artist Monet Miley led the group in ten sessions of drawing instruction, which culminated in a collaborative project on a book called "The Short Life of Popularity." Participants described gaining confidence in their abilities to express themselves artistically, and their plans to pursue art and design in school and in their future careers. 
The Summer Internship Program graduates with their certificates of completion

Intern Sasha, with her supervisor Yitzi Diamond of the Diamond Law Firm

Participants in the JustARTS Summer Drawing Program, in front of their work

Draft of a storyboard for a comic book participants designed and wrote, titled "The Short Life of Popularity"

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