The Youth Link program is a partnership between the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Midlands (BGCM), the South Carolina Bar’s Young Lawyer Division and the City of Columbia Police Department that seeks to make a more meaningful connection between teens, young lawyers and law enforcement officers through program delivery and relationship-building. Initially, the program will be located at BGCM’s Norman Arnold Teen Center in the Rosewood community. The goal of the program is to increase knowledge and understanding of the laws and public policies that govern our daily lives while also creating positive interactions between youth, lawyers and law enforcement officers.
There are two program components:
- iCivics – Provides students with the tools they need for active participation and democratic action. Free resources include print-and-go lesson plans, award-winning games, and digital interactives. The iCivics technology-based games place students in different civic roles and give them the opportunity to address real-world problems and issues. This component will be implemented by volunteers with the S.C. Bar’s Young Lawyers Division. (www.icivics.org)
- Law Enforcement Officer Relationship-building – Less structured than iCivics, this component of the program would be delivered by School Resource Officers (SROs) and Community Response Team officers (CRTs) with the City of Columbia Police Department. The primary objective is for the teens and the police officers to get to know each other and develop a rapport. This could happen through formal presentations, discussions, recreational activities, team-building exercises, etc.
Program Delivery – Summer 2016
Pilot Youth Link at the Norman Arnold Teen Center, focusing on the middle school teen population using the BGCM’s services for the summer. Alternate days/weeks for iCivics and Law Enforcement Relationship-building. Key contacts with BGCM, Young Lawyers Division and the City of Columbia Police Department will coordinate on implementation and delivery of the program relying largely on integration within the existing BGCM summer programming. Pre- and post-participation surveys will be conducted to determine the success of the program.