Palm Beach County program helps juvenile offenders stay out of jail

Jerome Burdi (Sun Sentinel)
October 25, 2010

Florida Community Alliance is showing troubled teens that there’s more to life than gangs, drugs and city streets.

And it sure beats serving time in the Juvenile Assessment Center.

Many of the teens now taking part in Florida Community Alliance, a law-enforcement mentoring group, passed through that jail for minors before the court ordered them into its programs.

The nonprofit organization recently took a group of teens canoeing in Riverbend Park west of Jupiter, a first for many of them.

The group tailors its trips to specific lessons. This one was perseverance. The teens piled in, two to three per canoe, to navigate the winding river with only each other to depend on. Mentors guided the way.

Some of the group’s teens have violent backgrounds, but when they get out into nature — with the sun pouring down over towering cypress and oak trees — they are humbled and mystified, and even scared at some of the river’s big spiders.

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