I’ve never seen anything like this. These kids NEVER smile. I never see them laugh or have fun. They don’t think there is anything good in life that can come without drama or trauma, and they don’t think they can be anything better than someone ‘surviving’.
Now I see them laughing, talking about surf and saving turtles, and they’re hanging out with lawyers, doctors and engineers. They can’t help but to see life differently.
Their goals are changing. Their lives are changing. They are changing.”
~ Judge Karen M. Radius, Presiding Judge, Hawai‘i Girls Court (ret)
An award-winning program
In 2009, Surfrider Spirit Sessions, received the Ola Pono Award for excellence in promoting safe, healthy, and drug-free lifestyles from the U.S. Department of Education, Safe and Drug-Free Schools, and Communities Program and the Coalition for a Drug-Free Hawai‘i.
Our success is best measured by the endorsement of the people we serve
Judges, probation officers, counselors, court staff, and the teens have all indicated that our programs are highly desirable and among the most popular, relevant, and effective diversion programs available. We see success in transformation of our students’ attitudes, behaviors, activities and achievements, and also by the beneficial impact they have on their peers and other youth. We’re receiving more requests for our services from the courts, other non-profits, and the teens themselves.
Can my cousin come next time? He’s not in the system or anything,
but he heard how much fun it is.”~ Brock
It’s crazy. We’ve never had non-court affiliated kids asking to be
let into a court-related program before.”
~ Joel Tamayo, Juvenile Drug Court Administrator
A Quick Look at Some of Our Teens and
How We’ve Impacted Them
< Before Spirit Sessions, Jeani’s social activities included running away, skipping school, and stealing cars. Today, Jeani is currently enrolled in college and hopes to become an attorney. She has worked as a Junior Mentor and volunteered as an administrative assistant in the Spirit Sessions office.
< Before Spirit Sessions, Kimo was in the Juvenile Justice system for selling drugs to other students. Kimo has embraced the lesson of “paddling hard to catch good waves”. He redirected his energy in high school and now has a 4.0 GPA. Today, he is a Junior Mentor Manager, and we often find him using his sales skills and cajoling other teens to quit smoking and live clean. He has graduated from high school and has enrolled in college and continues to mentor new Spirit Session youth as Junior Mentor Manager.
< Before Spirit Sessions, Chris felt abandoned, suffered depression and used to physically cut herself or use drugs to erase her emotional pain. After Spirit Sessions Chris enrolled in college and worked two jobs, including an internship with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and serving as a key staff member of the Spirit Sessions team.
Over 500 At-Risk and Adjudicated Youth Served Since Our 2006 Pilot
Youth surveys, court reports, and data reveal the effectiveness
of Surfrider Spirit Sessions
- Youth gain a sense of achievement and a sense of self-esteem and pride.
- This builds resiliency and allows them to say “no thank you” to
peers who try to entice them to participate in negative behaviors.
- Youth reduced recidivism by 30% after participating in Spirit Sessions.
- Judges note that youth negative behaviors are significantly reduced after
participating in Spirit Sessions.
- Court staff report improved communication with family members and a
reduction in violent outbursts by youth who complete the Spirit Sessions program.
- Youth gain sense of achievement and gain sense of self-esteem and pride.
This builds resiliency and allows them to say “no thank you” to peers who
try to entice them to participate in negative behaviors.
- 85% of youth reported positive shift in ability to trust in peers and adults
- 43% of youth experienced increased positive leadership and citizenship skills
- 62% of youth experienced a positive shift in healthy living
- 30% of youth acquired job experience, either paid or through internships,
obtained through referrals from our mentors and program partners.
- More than 50% of our youth participants ask to repeat the program, and
more than 75% want more of our services.
This program changed my life. You guys changed my life. The courts told me what NOT to do, but you guys, the staff and mentors, showed me what I could do and what I could be. I’m going to succeed in life. Now I know I can be a leader and I’m going to be one.”
~ Jeani, Junior Mentor