Straits Area Youth Promotion Academy (SAYPA)
Cheboygan County Probate/Family Court Juvenile Division

Strengthening Youth, Family and their Community, One Family at a Time!

SAYPA is a day prevention program for adjudicated delinquents 13-18 years of age; primarily the Middle/High School age youth. The program combines education, nutrition, and treatment services designed to address undesired behavior, teach valuable life skills, and restore them to the community. The program includes:

  • On-site education from a certified, at risk trained, teacher.
  • On-site intervention to assist in the educational plan, as well as provide intervention services.
  • Pre-placement assessment to identify the educational and treatment needs of each youth and their family.
  • On-site education aides, as well as non-instructional aids to help administrate the program.
  • On-site nutrition, crisis intervention, live skills training, leisure/recreational opportunities, drug education, substance abuse treatment, aggression replacement therapy, community service projects, tutoring and mentoring.

SAYPA is a multi-leveled program based on each youth's ability to accomplish each level. SAYPA is a four level system that describes the expected behavior, consequences and privileges based on the youth's cooperation and willingness to meet program expectations. The youth progress through different stages ending with level four and transitioning back into school with support services.

Once students demonstrate academic competence and appropriate social skills development they begin to transition back to their community with transition support services. SAYPA has a strong behavioral health service component, which is necessary to address and prevent substance use and violence by these youth. A local community mental health agency has agreed to provide services, on-site if necessary, to this at-risk population.

The Straits Area Youth Promotions Academy is of course a zero tolerance program. No drugs, alcohol, or tobacco products will be permitted on the grounds, which are considered school grounds by state law.

SAYPA is a multi-dimensional drug, violence and other anti-social behavioral prevention program that utilizes a host of excellent community resources. The program recognizes that these issues must be addressed with the context of the community (recognizing that to an extent youth tend to mimic adult behaviors) and the family. In addition, SAYPA seeks to build a community and family support structure that is consistent with the treatment goals of the youth in order to ensure the long term success of home placement and prevent future delinquent behavior.

The local community is committed to promoting youth development. SAYPA will access a host of collaborative-community based youth enhancement services. This will include: North Country Community Mental Health and private counseling services, Cognitive Restructuring, MSU Extension programs such as Character Counts and Nutrition education, DHS services, Harbor Hall, Northern Michigan Substance Abuse services, Women's Resource Center, Parenting programs, and other community based programs deemed to be appropriate to the goals of the program.

Finally, in addition to a structured curriculum of academic courses, the youth will be exposed to social and life skills training classes that provide practical and vocational educational experiences. SAYPA would also provide a liaison between the school that the youth are displaced from and SAYPA to facilitate transition back to regular school.

From Decisions to Actions

From Decisions to Actions is an educational program addressing youth issues in the community, school, or home that could lead to juvenile delinquency programs. Hundreds of Cheboygan County youth, along with their parents, have successfully completed our 10 week program since the project was organized in 2004.

The "From Decisions to Actions" program provides a 10 week class for troubled youth and their parents, meeting for two hours, once each week. Three sessions are held each school year. The youth are provided with an adult volunteer mentor and given course work that examines their decision-making processes, attitudes, and other essential social skills. Parents are given a parallel course in a group setting mainly apart from the youth. Parents learn to identify their self-defeating behaviors, and the differences between passive, aggressive, and assertive parenting styles. Regular guest speakers are called upon to speak to the parents and youth on a variety of pertinent topics throughout the 10 weeks.

The "From Decisions to Actions" program has reduced incidences of substance abuse and criminal behavior, improved school behavior and attendance, and reduced conflicts in the home. Parents have indicated that they are better able to cope with the stress of raising teens, have learned new techniques, and have more personal resources to rely on after completing the course.

"There are many challenges in keeping this program running smoothly, but when we see the definite progress made by these families, our challenges mean little in comparison to the benefits reaped," states Charles H. Brown, Program Coordinator.

The most notable successes are perhaps the most difficult to quantify. Parents are asked to complete a "Parent Survey" at the end of each 10-week session, but that often does not reflect the magnitude of change that most of the parents go through. Many have come into the program angry or depressed, and at a loss as to how to deal with a problem youth, and unsure why their strategies are not working. After completing the program, they most often come away with new tools to use in their job of raising their children. They share stories, listen to what works and what doesn't, and ultimately become better and more skilled parents.

After only 2 weeks, a parent in a recent class wrote on her parent feedback form, "I think it is a wonderful forum in which parents can share their experiences, exchange ideas, get some encouragement and positive feedback. The moderators are flexible to allow some digression when it's beneficial, but still stay on track. I will likely get involved in this program after my personal tour has ended."

7461 N Straits Hwy
Cheboygan, MI 49721

Additional Staff
Chris Ackerman, Director
Straits Area Youth Promotion Academy
(231) 627-4139
Mari Hesselink
Straits Area Youth Promotion Academy
(231) 627-4139
Charles H. Brown, Program Coordinator
From Decisions to Actions
(231) 627-6482