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“At Risk” Youth, and the Phenomenal Commitment and Dedication of Allen “Duffy” Samuels, and his Exceptional Team at “Duffy’s Hope”
In regard to how we as Adults; Teachers, Mentors and Community Leaders can get involved in working to change negative life trajectory’s of "At-Risk" youth, this article is written in dedication to my friend, someone in whom we can all learn just a little more about the word “Service”, the incomparable Mr. Allen “Duffy” Samuels.
Allen “Duffy” Samuels founded The Duffy’s Hope Program in 1998. Since that time, the “Duffy’s Hope” programs have been serving the needs of “At-Risk” youth within the greater Wilmington, Delaware community for 10 years. Duffy’s Hope”, located at 100 W. 10th Street, Suite #9, Wilmington, Delaware 19801, is a service provider for at-risk and hard to reach youth, with DOCUMENTED proof of success. Duffy’s Hope uses a HOLISTIC approach that includes a 8-prong system to not only determine the root causes contributing to many youth being classified as “At-Risk”, but also to address, and more importantly, to help rectify those issues using 8 program components, as follows: 1. One-on-One Mentoring - 2. Parent and Family Participation and Involvement - 3. School Visits - 4. Tutoring - 5. Life changing “shock therapy” field trips - 6. Education and enrichment field trips - 7. Guest Speakers - 8. Group Discussions.
The focus of the H.O.P.E. (Helping Our (young) People Excel) program is prevention (of crime related activity). The H.O.P.E Program provides academic support, mentoring, drug and alcohol prevention, and social enrichment to area youth who reside in the City of Wilmington, and all throughout the State of Delaware. 100% of participating H.O.P.E youth are at-risk primarily as a condition of the life-choices/life-styles of their parents and/or caregivers, unfortunate environmental circumstances of which many of the H.O.P.E. youth have experienced since birth. Of the 4,500 youth served, 2,500 were participants in Duffy’s direct services programs.
Duffy’s H.O.P.E. specializes in the development of emotional intelligence and self-efficacy as it helps youth to address high-risk factors for substance abuse, violence, bullying, gang involvement and other crime-related activity. Youth are taught to recognize high risk people, places, things and situations. Through the H.O.P.E. Program, students also develop the confidence required to understand that they can handle many of these risk-factors that they’re exposed to within their everyday lives; effectively leveraging their new coping skills as an option for conflict avoidance, risk scenario escape, refusal of unwanted behaviors\circumstances, gang participation resistance, and violence prevention. The H.O.P.E. program is unique in that it uses a “whatever-it-takes” approach to ensure that youth, once registered in the program, experience success through a range of initiatives that ultimately prepare them, in partnership with the school, for college and ultimately, their careers. The H.O.P.E. program is unique in three major ways. First, H.O.P.E. encourages parental involvement by cultivating family involvement in school, sports, and community activities. Second, H.O.P.E. provides weekly group session’s involving structured activities ranging from field trips to open forum “rap sessions.” Third, H.O.P.E. is a culture-based program designed to meet the needs of at risk youth, their families and their communities in order to promote well-rounded success.
Retention is not an issue at Duffy's HOPE. Once youth spend their first evening with the H.O.P.E. program, they tend to cling to it. Youth are drawn to the small group session activities and the building of self-esteem. Through H.O.P.E. Many youth who were classified as “At-Risk” begin to participate and enjoy the interactive sessions, and as we recognize that food is essential for the mind, H.OP.E. Program youth always end the evening with a warm meal. Supplemental learning and recreational events also occur throughout the school year.
According to Rutgers University Professor of Psychology, Maurice Elias, there are four keys to helping “At-Risk” Youth.
Key No 1: Caring, Sustained Relationships:
Key No 2: Establishing “Reachable Goals”:
Key No 3: Establishing Realistic, Hopeful Pathways.
Key No 4: Engaging School and Community Settings:
What constitutes an “At Risk” young person? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while those determining the criteria of “at risk” youth often focus on ethnic minorities, any young person classified as “At Risk” is statistically more likely than others to fail academically. By virtue of their environmental circumstances, many young people classified as “At Risk” are often academically disadvantaged, or are evolving within low socioeconomic communities. The Legal System defines an at-risk youth as an individual under the age of 18 years who:
• Is absent from home for more than 72 consecutive hours without parental consent
• Is beyond the control of his/her parent such that the child's behavior substantially endangers the health, safety, or welfare of the child or any other person; or
• Has a serious substance abuse problem for which there are no pending charges related to their specific, or generalized substance abuse.
Other “At-Risk” contributing factors can include; living in a single-family home, frequently changing schools at "non-traditional" times within the school year, below-average middle school grades, repeating grades in school, having older siblings who left high school before completing their diploma requirements, or succumbing to negative peer pressures within “depressed” communities.
Nonetheless, while the term “At Risk” can vary, one thing is universally recognized throughout the State of Delaware; “Duffy’s Hope”, with Allen “Duffy” Samuels and his extraordinary team of professionals and volunteers are making a difference in the lives of “At-Risk” youth, every day, of every year, since 1998.
To learn more about how you can get involved with “Duffy’s Hope”, or to explore opportunities for which you can become a volunteer, a mentor, or offer financial support (While there is no fee for youth to participate in the H.O.P.E. program, youth give back to the community through a monthly mandated four-hour community service project.) go to: http://www.duffyshopeinc.org/ or contact Duffy and his team at: Phone: 302.652.3532 – eMail: infoWduffyshopeinc.org – Fax: 302.652.3350.
To learn more about how to get involved in youth development programs within your community, type “How to get involved with 'At Risk' youth mentoring programs“ within your GOOGLE search browser, where you’ll be exposed to a plethora or resources in this regard.
R. Paige, A.K.A. "True Stories" is a Philadelphia, PA based Talk Radio Host on WURD 900 AM, (Sunday Night - 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM - "Staying Resilient Talk Radio), as well as an Author and freelance writer. R Paige primarily focuses on Political, African American Culture, Entertainment, Music, and Sports interest stories.
In August, 2013, R. Paige published his BLOCKBUSTER relationship advice book; "Think Like A Woman, Act Like A Man", now available on iBooks, BarnesandNoble.com, Amazon.com, and wherever eBooks are sold!!
COMING SOON!! In September, 2014, watch for the DEBUT of R. Paige’s critically acclaimed TV Talk and Entertainment Variety Show, “MAN ANSWERS TELEVISION”, coming to you on the NAZCA Network!!
(You may also follow R. Paige on Twitter, under the user name: @TrueStories2