Can the fictional story of one person change the life trajectory of another? Maybe, especially if someone comes along beside you to help you understand and apply those life lessons.
Reading for Life is a mentoring program that combines reading literary pieces with a personal study of seven classic virtues. Designed by Alesha Seroczynski, Ph.D., for juvenile offenders at the St. Joseph County Juvenile Justice Center, Reading for Life exists as an alternative to prosecution for non-violent offenses. In small groups with trained mentors young people learn to make more virtuous life choices by recognizing and implementing the timeless virtues of Justice, Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, Fidelity, Hope and Charity.
Participants spend two hours a week for 12 weeks in small groups with trained mentors reading and discussing novels in relation to the virtues. Participants also personally reflect on their own life experiences through journaling and complete a thematic community service project. At the end of program, the participants give a presentation to their parents about what they’ve read and learned.
Students who successfully complete Reading for Life have their cases closed as a diversion; they also have the opportunity to have their juvenile record expunged after they turn 18 if they do not reoffend. To date, 99% of Reading for Life graduates have not been prosecuted for reoffense; 94% have had no further contact with the law.
In June 2012, Reading for Life began a new and exciting venture with youth who are detained at least 30 days for more serious offenses. Initial results are promising, and new groups continue this winter and fall.
What would happen if YOU took time each week to spend with an at-risk youth? Your life will never be the same!