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Officials Create Hotline to Help Troubled Young People

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Richland County officials announced Thursday a new hotline to help disadvantaged and high-risk young people avoid negative lifestyles.

(Richland County) -- Richland County officials announced Thursday a new hotline to help disadvantaged and high-risk young people avoid negative lifestyles.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, Dr. Charles E. Young, the President of Allen University, and Pastor Darrell Jackson, Sr. of Bible Way Church on Atlas Road announced the "Be Right!" Project during a Thursday news conference.

Lott, Young and Jackson are working together to help young people avoid negative lifestyles with a number of programs set up through the "Be Right!" Project. The hotline is (803) 238-9422.

Officials say young people can use a referral system designed to promote positive choices that will help lead them to healthy lifestyles.

Leaders say one of the missions of the project is to combat the growing rates of teen pregnancy, tobacco, alcohol and substance abuse by minors, gang violence, truancy and drop-out rates, and other forms of youth delinquency.

Organizers say the program will offer referrals to agencies that can provide services as an alternative for negative behaviors. The leaders say providing resources and alternatives for teens, and parents and guardians who are in trouble is the main goal of the project.

"This project will be a community-wide effort to combat violence and other issues facing our youth. It is not meant to duplicate services, but to provide another forum for dialogue and prevention," says Jackson.

"Allen University welcomes the opportunity to become a part of the solution that addresses the problems faced among today's youth. As an academic community, we definitely feel that education is one of the key elements in preparing young adults to lead a better quality of life," said Young.

"One of the most important aspects of addressing youth violence and gangs has been a lack of help and resources for parents and young people," said Lott. "I am very excited that Bible Way Church and Allen University are now filling that void. The "Be Right!" Project is just what we need to be successful in our efforts to address youth violence."

Officials say all of the programs and services are held at the C.R. Neal Dream Center located at 2430 Atlas Road in Columbia.

Other services the program will offer:

After School Supports - Placement assistance is provided for elementary, middle and high school students whose families meet income eligibility guidelines. The Dream Catcher's After School Program is an award-winning DJJ Teen After School Center (T.A.S.C.) site with programs designed to reduce the likelihood of youth incarceration.

Character Education - Youth groups meet monthly for "Power Sessions," designed to provide a forum for candid discussion of issues relevant to today's youth.

Computer Training - Students learn basic keyboarding and can receive instruction on Microsoft Office applications including Word, Excel, Power Point, and Outlook.

Employment Readiness & Placement - Participants receive instruction on the full employment suite which includes resume writing, completing applications, interviewing, using the Internet and other resources for job searches, job retention, and career development. Job placement assistance is also available through partnerships with local businesses and corporations.

GED Preparation - Classroom instruction or the computer-based study guide method are used to provide comprehensive training, which includes general course instruction and practice exams for individuals desiring to prepare for the GED Examination.

Mentoring for Success - Teens are matched with positive role models who provide one-to-one support, guidance and friendship.

Parent/Family Support - Group participants share emotional, spiritual, and moral insight needed to enhance parenting skills, and to achieve and maintain healthy parent-child relationships.

School-Based Programs - Leadership development, conflict-resolution training and social competence development are just a few of the topics covered in our school-based programming. Leadership skills will be cultivated and youth will be taught to realize triggers that escalate emotions to the point of violence through the use of roleplaying and discussion.

Community Events - Supervised recreational activities in positive environments which promote cultural awareness and social growth.

Educational Planning - Through partnerships with local colleges and universities, high school students will be offered opportunities for campus visits, educational guidance, and assistance in pursuing financing options for college. Limited scholarships are also available.

 James Gilbert     11/16/2007 8:58:38 AM

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