A second chance: Local at-risk youths graduate the VIDA program

LANCASTER – Diplomas were awarded this weekend to 29 local teenagers who completed the Sheriff’s Department’s Vital Intervention and Directional Alternatives (VIDA) Program, a 16-week program for “at risk” youth, ages 11 to17, which integrates counseling, physical fitness and community service to curb criminal behavior through positive reinforcement.

Twelve Lancaster graduates and 17 Palmdale graduates were part of VIDA’s total graduating class of 115. The graduates were honored during a ceremony Saturday at Belvedere Middle School in East Los Angeles.

“I am extremely proud of these young men and women for displaying the dedication it takes to complete this program,” said Sheriff’s Chief Neal Tyler.

Overseen by law enforcement, VIDA focuses on several areas, including healthy living, academic and vocational achievement, truancy reduction, increased literacy, workforce preparation, improving parental relationships, and preventing substance abuse.

The program requires youths to attend 160 hours of various training and educational courses while their parents attend 32 hours of parenting classes.

VIDA works closely with the L.A. County Probation Department, juvenile courts, various school districts, and a wide range of community-based organizations to increase accountability and provide needed services.

“It’s about building a strong working partnership among law enforcement, community-based organizations, schools, and families so that these children can have a second chance,” said Chief Tyler. “It’s about intervention in an effort to break a cycle that has no future.”

The 29 local VIDA graduates are eligible for a full scholarship at the University of Antelope Valley. UAV announced last month it will be granting a full-ride bachelor degree scholarship every year to one local graduate of the VIDA program. Read that story here. UAV officials said the first recipient for the full scholarship could be chosen from VIDA’s most recent class, which graduated Saturday.

For more information on the VIDA Program, visit www.vida.la.

(Information via press release from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.)

  4 comments for “A second chance: Local at-risk youths graduate the VIDA program

  1. Eunice Bland
    March 28, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    I have a 17yr old son, who is smoking weed, having sex, throwing eggs at unoccupied homes, flunking out of school, will not listen to discipline by me or anyone. Fighting & using profanity. I need help! PLEASE

  2. Nicole Dawson
    December 7, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    That sounds like a great idea! I imagine, many of those at risk youths have probably never gotten a chance to even be around horses, much less ride them. It would be a great experience for those kids.

    • Matt Keltner
      December 7, 2011 at 4:05 pm

      Sometimes being around an animal and realizing that it is a living, breathing life form that, while capable of working for us (in the case of a horse), it also needs care and concern and giving it as much may have the effect of changing a person’s heart. As you’ve said, maybe that’s what some of these kids need!

  3. December 7, 2011 at 8:46 am

    I would LOVE to offer the next class a chance to have some horse experience – I know how to lead Team building exercises with horses. If someone with VIDA would contact me, I would happily donate a day at the ranch to these kids.

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