Kendall* is a 17-year-old youth who entered the justice system when he was arrested and charged with robbery. His problematic behavior started early on due to a strained relationship with his mother. Days after being referred to youthSpark’s Youth Services Center, Kendall was open with Center staff about his past. He stated, "I've done a lot of bad stuff and hurt people. I really didn't think I would be alive right now because I was always fighting and in to stuff. Half of what I've done, I don't like telling people, because I know people look at me like a thug. But, that's not me and I want to do better. I got a baby to live for." Kendall shared that he and his family experienced ongoing trauma which had not been resolved.
His behavior was indicative of the trauma he experienced as Kendall skipped school, responded to authority figures in a demanding and defiant manner, and refused to build trusting relationships with individuals who were put in place to support him, such as his probation officer. In addition, Kendall became a teen father and required significant direction in becoming a positive role model and provider for his son. Kendall began attending the youthSpark Urban Growers Summer Program in partnership with Truly Living Well.
The Urban Growers Program allows court-involved boys to learn about urban farming, how to grow food at the local urban farm, entrepreneurial skills, and independent living skills. Kendall was initially hesitant about attending the program. However, he quickly developed a special bond with youthSpark's Clinician, Shanae, the Farm Director, Kofe, and several male youth who were also involved in the program. Over the course of the program, Kendall emerged as a positive peer leader with a great work ethic.
Kendall developed skills in positive communication and his peers have looked to him for motivation. He was also receptive to learning how to develop and work towards achieving short- and long-term goals. Kendall became very ambitious and is now well on his way to achieving his goals of earning his GED and completing his probation case successfully. After completing his GED, Kendall will begin the Department of Labor’s Youth Build Program to earn a pre-apprentice certificate from the Home Builders Institute. His long-term goal is to “flip houses” and earn a construction certification. Kendall has also shown great parenting skills and continuously works toward becoming independent.
*Kendall’s name has been changed.
A large part of human trafficking prevention is youth intervention. We’re grateful to partner with youthSpark, an organization that is actively intervening in the lives of at-risk youth like Kendall. Learn more about youthSpark here.