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Riverside County Desert Strength Academy

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Published on Apr 5, 2012

Riverside County Probation Department's Desert Strength Academy helps at-risk middle school youth and parents improve self-esteem, make better choices and connect with positive community influences. The departments Youth Accountability Team members designed a "boot camp' style Academy that incorporated structure, daily physical challenges, teambuilding, fun and education. Goals for the camp include instilling positive identity, positive values, planning and decision making, resistance skills and peaceful conflict resolution. Feedback from camp participants has been overwhelmingly positive. Participants reported feeling empowered to make better choices and seek more positive peer groups. Statistical data shows that the academy is having profound impacts on the youth. An intangible benefit of the academy is the unprecedented collaboration between youth-serving agencies in the Coachella Valley. Based on the academy's success, the Probation Department is planning on expanding it to other regions of the county.

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