The Department of Juvenile Justice is sponsoring a day called “Restoring Carolina Through Youth Service” to be held September 12. DJJ and volunteer organizations will come together to perform a variety of service projects across the state of South Carolina.
This takes place the same weekend as the newly-named National Day of Service, September 11, 2009.
DJJ Director, Judge William Byars says the mission of the project is simple yet meaningful and his agency is working more and more to get into the community.”We know -scientifically we know that if we can do things to correct the kids in the community, we’re more successful than if we bring them into a juvenile prison and try to change them there, because then we’re competeing with the gangs and all the kids that are really bad.”
Byars says it’s more than what those who are serving time have done. He says this program is a way to get responsible people into the lives of the juveniles by teaching them to give back –and earn their way back to being good citizens. “It’s chance for 3,000 kids on one day in the state of South Carolina, to go and find things that need to be done under our guidance, and give back,”says Byars.
With budget cuts and funds that were once available, but are no longer at hand, Byars says finding partners in the community has helped make the program work.
He says, “First it was the local community, then you begin to step out. We have the United Way as out partners, we have the various camps that are out there. We have the National Guard, The National Guard is everywhere. We send our kids to the youth challenge, National Guard takes them -they have mentors when they come out, We have the AME church as our partner -they give us our auxiliary probation officer. It just grows. One contact grows into another grows into another, grows into another. We’re still in the early stages of it. We still have lots of growth that we can do.”