On January 24, Clewiston Middle School participated in the Gaining Appreciation by Adjusting Perspectives (G.A.A.P.) Discussion. Hendry County Judge Darell Hill acted as the moderator for the round table session that included seven middle school students and 3 Hendry County Sheriff’s Office staff, and County Commissioner Emma Byrd with an audience of 26 youth. When the students arrived, they were asked how they felt. Many seemed nervous and a bit unsure about the event. Some expressed that they felt: “fine, ok, good, not sure”. During the discussion, Judge Hill posed questions to the students and to law enforcement personnel.
The Office of Prevention Services, launched these G.A.A.P. Discussions, in 2012, focusing on schools and community. The purpose of the discussion is to promote education and understanding, while working to develop a positive, productive relationship between youth and law enforcement, and also build self-esteem, reduce juvenile arrests, and minority overrepresentation.
When the students were done, they were asked, “How do you feel now that you’ve completed the session?” They answered:
“I feel like I can do better now.”
“Now y’all gave me a good prevention speech.”
“I feel that I can do better.”
“I can and should be better.”
“When I am in school, no play and do my work.”
“I feel like I’ve got someone of courage within me.”
“I feel more free, I feel more better, I feel more free, I feel safe.”
This G.A.A.P. Discussion allowed the exploration and identification of many different factors that our community’s youth are exposed to, and will help develop more effective prevention and intervention programs. All participants commented on how successful the outcome of this event was and hope to meet again to continue and expand their discussions in the future.
If you would like to learn more about the “Roadmap to System Excellence” and other Department of Juvenile Justice prevention programs, visit them online at: www.djj.state.fl.us/roadmap-to-system-excellence.