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 11-18 years of age who are no longer able to attend or find success within the regular school system. The program combines education, nutrition, and treatment services designed to address undesired behavior, teach valuable life skills, and restore youth to the community. Youth must be court-ordered to attend the SAYPA program.
SAYPA is focused on rehabilitation of both the individual youth and the family unit as a whole. The primary goals of the SAYPA program are:
- To instill accountability for actions thereby developing maturity to equip youth for productive citizenship
- To provide adjudicated 'at-risk' youth with a highly structured community-based program with education and treatment designed to restore them to responsibility and prevent delinquent behavior
- To provide parents with support and equip them with the skills necessary to reinforce the goals of the academy as well as address any issues in the home that increase delinquent behavior
- To reduce or eliminate costly out-of-home placement, allowing the youth to remain at home and in the community
- To provide academic opportunities, rehabilitative services, and life skills training to at-risk youth
- To reduce the rate of recidivism among youth in Cheboygan County
- To provide delinquent youth with a means to transition from placement back to their home, school, and community
Program youth benefit from a highly structured environment where they receive a myriad of services and activities focused on rehabilitation and skill building. The program offers:
- School credits which are fully transferable, high school diploma upon graduation
- Small class sizes, certified at-risk trained teachers
- On-site juvenile officer/case manager to implement the program, monitor the youth, address behavior issues as they arise, and provide intervention services
- Pre-placement assessment to identify the educational and treatment needs of each youth and their family
- On-site nutrition classes, crisis intervention, life skills training, leisure/recreational opportunities, physical education, substance abuse treatment and education, community service projects, tutoring, counseling, and mentoring
SAYPA utilizes a four level system that describes the expected behavior, consequences, and earned privileges based on the youth's ability and willingness to meet program expectations. Once youth demonstrate academic competence and appropriate social skills development, they begin to transition back to their community with support services. SAYPA seeks to build a school, community, and family support structure around delinquent youth to maximize success and reduce recidivism. Since its inception in 2000, SAYPA has helped over 180 youth and their families.
Straits Area Youth Promotion Academy holds a 9-10 week Summer Program beginning when school concludes in June and ending shortly before the start of the school year in August. Program youth spend three days per week from 8 am - 3 pm out in the community (with the supervision of a case manager and law enforcement officer) assisting various organizations with service projects. Some of these projects have included:
- Painting the boardwalk at Gordon-Turner park
- Landscaping at Hospice House
- Clean-up and grounds work at the county fairgrounds
- Assisting the Humane Society and Historical Society with their annual garage sales
This volunteer work experience helps to build character, instill work ethic, provide skill building experiences, promote team work, enhance self-esteem, create community pride, and allows youth to practice social skills learned throughout the year at SAYPA.
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. 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, 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."