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Resilience & Recovery Project – Youth Program Team

Over the past nine months, the Jackson County Resilience & Recovery Project (R&R) team has been working hard to establish youth peer support programming with Jackson County Juvenile Services in Medford. “This is where it all started for me” says Doug, Peer Support Supervisor, “being justice-involved at a very young age and not knowing what path my life was going to take.” “I was one of those kids,” adds Veronica, Lead Peer Support Specialist “I often think back to my childhood and wonder what kind of difference it would have made to have a peer there to support me through the criminal justice system.” The R&R Project – Youth team does exactly that, engaging with youth a variety of integrated peer support services to increase resilience and empower them to end their justice-involvement with new tools, skills, and supportive community.

The team are driven by their personal experiences and a passion for working with youth impacted by systems. “I started my addiction at a really young age; if I had had someone there to point me in the right direction, my life might have been different.” says Allan, Peer Support Specialist. “So, I’ve always wanted to work with youth– if we catch them at a young age, they have the ability to change our world.” “I’m able to use my lived experience to let these kids know that there’s consequences.” says Doug, “I was in the same shoes that you’re in, and I want to help you bridge the gap so you don’t have to spend the next 30 years figuring it out.”

Peer Support Services provided include after school programming, recovery support groups and cognitive behavioral skill groups with individual wraparound peer support services in the process of being added to the program. “I’ve noticed that kids are yearning for that intentional space; to have those conversations that might never have happened in a PO’s office.” explains Jason, Peer Support Specialist. “There’s beauty in being able to be there for them, you know?” adds Veronica, “I go around to all of the tables to see what these youth are writing, and they’re very insightful and in touch with their feelings, and they understand that the world we live in has its trials. Being able to explore that and go through that with them has been really eye opening.”

The R&R Project – Youth team utilize a collection of evidence-based practices and curriculums to create impactful programming for youth in detention, supervision or community settings, helping build tools and skills to help youth identify and accomplish their goals. “Right now, we’re focusing a lot on mindfulness and meditation; I thought there was going to be a lot of pushback, but they’re very open to it.” says Allan, “It’s taught me that even I can misjudge them sometimes, because they really do want to learn and practice these new skills.” A new suite of innovative curriculums were carefully selected to create a strong foundation for the youth peer support programming, including Power Source, Voices, A Young Man’s Guide to Self Mastery and more!

About their team, Doug says “The youth get to see the dynamics of our team, and they love the camaraderie, they see that we support each other, and they know that we’re people in recovery too.” Jason adds, “Our mission is to prove that having justice involvement means that you are super resilient, and you know how to get what you need, and with a change in your perspective you don’t have to get those things that way anymore. What does it look like if we take the tools that you already have and use them to help you do what you want to do and become who you want to become?”