CULVER CITY — A new youth diversion program will begin this summer in Culver City in collaboration with the Culver City Police Department, the county of Los Angeles, and the New Earth nonprofit organization.
Under the program, juveniles arrested within city limits will have the opportunity to complete a six-month program with New Earth, where they will learn leadership skills and divert them away from entering the justice system, said Tiffany Fordham of New Earth.
“New Earth is happy to welcome and mentor young people through the Culver City Youth Diversion Program,” said New Earth Clinical Program Director Marni Baim.
“Utilizing trauma-informed and arts-based diversion courses to empower youth by exploring identity and purpose, we look forward to shaping new leaders,” Baim said. “Once youth enter the juvenile justice system, they often find it difficult to get out of a pipeline that can last a lifetime, which is why we’re committed to getting them on the path of success.”
The program will include a focus on the arts, leadership, identity, and introspection courses and sessions.
Culver City police detectives will evaluate juveniles detained by Culver City police to assess the option for enrollment in the Youth Diversion Program at New Earth in lieu of arrest, officials said. Once the youth complete the diversion program successfully, their name remains out of the juvenile justice system entirely.
“To lay the foundation for successful adulthood, it is important for youth to be mentored and guided into safe and healthy lifestyles early,” said Culver City Police Capt. Sam Agaiby said. “Through participating in the Youth Diversion Program, we are hopeful that we can divert youth from going down the wrong path while keeping our community safe.”
New Earth provides youth with mentor-based creative arts and educational programs including poetry, music production, gardening, and fitness.
“The city is excited to have this program guiding our youth toward brighter futures,” Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells said. “The partnership between New Earth and the Culver City Police Department will help foster a pathway to success for our kids, and lead to a safer community for all.
“We’re thankful to New Earth and L.A. County for this opportunity to divert youth away from incarceration and into an environment where they can truly heal, thrive and succeed.”
New Earth currently serves 500 young people per week who are incarcerated in Los Angeles County detention facilities and placement homes and in the Orange County Juvenile Hall.
Upon release from incarceration, young people join the New Earth Arts & Leadership center in Culver City, where they receive career training, jobs, a fully accredited high school education program, mentorship, case management, nature expeditions, arts programming and wrap-around services that help them re-enter their communities with all the support and nurturing they need to make a successful transition.
For more information, please go to https://newearthlife.org.
This article originally appeared in the Wave Newspapers.