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28 Members Graduate from First Offender Diversion Program

Fanning Institute

Twenty- eight young people recently graduated from YouthServe, a diversion program for offered for those on probation for misdemeanor criminal offenses.

YouthServe is a local Athens program offered through the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, Athens-Clarke County Municipal Court, and ACC Probation Services. It allows for those within the 17-24 age group to rethink their past behaviors and turn their life around. Emily Boness, public service associate at the Fanning Institute, explained that the goal of the program involves learning from community service and leadership classes.

“The goals of the program are to provide the leadership opportunities and leadership classroom sessions,” Boness said. “We do five three-hour sessions as well as meaningful community service opportunities here around Athens.”

Participants in YouthServe learned about leadership styles, principles of leadership, conflict values, decision making, goal setting and individual and group communications. Outside of the classroom, participants worked with many local nonprofits, including Books for Keeps, Hands on Athens, the Cottage, Children First and the Northeast Georgia Food Bank. Boness explained that the community service allowed for participants to see more of Athens and work with local organizations.

“I hope that out of the community sessions, participants learn more about the Athens community,” Boness said. “Of course some of our participants are from Athens and so this was just a way for them to connect with organizations in town that are serving people.”

This session of YouthServe concluded with participants reflecting on leadership and the program as a whole.