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Southwest Key Community Connections Helping Youths in Buffalo, NY

By Southwest Key on 08/12/2013 @ 07:54 AM

Tags: Community Empowerment, Education, Juvenile Justice

A personal collage created by De-Janay on how her “personal self” can intermingle with her “outside self”

A personal collage created by De-Janay on how her “personal self” can intermingle with her “outside self”

Fifteen-year-old De-Janay of Buffalo, New York has been suspended several times for disruptive and truant behavior. She has been described as aggressive, disrespectful and violent in school. In February of this year, Family Services Team referred De-Janay to Southwest Key Community Connections, a juvenile justice program aimed at preventing at-risk youth, ages 11 to 17, from further entering the justice system.

Brittany Burton, case manager at SWKey Community Connections was assigned to the case because of her extensive experience with delinquent adolescent females. It was apparent to Burton at the beginning that De-Janay’s behavior was related to situations at home and that any intervention by a team would need to be empathetic, engaging and encouraging.

“Through monitoring, groups and case management, clients and families are given the tools and skills to feel empowered about making positive choices,” says Teresa Weston Scherer, Clinician at SWKey Community Connections.

De-Janay reluctantly began attending weekly groups and started making friends with youths in similar situations. By attending weekly meetings with Burton, De-Janay slowly began to trust others and gain the self-confidence needed to persevere through conflicts. Over the past two months, a new group dedicated to young females was created. The focus is on developing and facilitating feelings of safety, self-esteem, emotional strength and addressing body image concerns. De-Janay has been a creative and active participant within the group, using her newfound strength to achieve her goals of seeking employment and moving to a new school.

For Burton, the joy is in seeing her clients grow as young adults while overcoming a troubled past. “Miss, I’m actually gonna miss seeing you and coming to groups every week,” De-Janay told Burton. But as De-Janay moves forward, she will be empowered to achieve her goals.


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