Prepare for Their Day in Court
Holy Child students Taylor Adams, Aida Noel, Aine McIntyre, Gabriella Messina, and Sophia Amador are part of the Community Youth Court, along with Solenn McGrory, not pictured.
Making a difference is part of a student’s ethos at School of the Holy Child. So is leadership.
After learning about the groundbreaking Community Youth Court, a youth-led juvenile justice initiative started by the White Plains Youth Bureau, a number of Holy Child juniors and seniors applied to participate, and six were accepted. We sat down with five of them on campus this week.
Senior Solenn McGrory said, “Being a part of positive change in the criminal justice system has been truly rewarding. Hundreds of youths have passed through the doors of the Youth Court and because of the program, they have no marks on their permanent records and, just as importantly, are given a second chance.”
Gaining a better understanding of how the courts and the legal system work was their first task, explained junior Aine McIntyre. “We work with real juvenile cases. We put them through practice trial interviews.”
Taylor Adams, a junior, who is also a Youth Advocate, was pleased to report that some of their “clients”, most of whom have committed minor offenses and petty crimes, have already completed their community service hours. “Several have told me how much they’ve enjoyed connecting with seniors and hearing their stories through Grandpas United, an intergenerational youth mentoring program.” .”
Senior Gabriella Messina offered, “The kids in the program are not that different from us. They’ve just made mistakes. Through this justice initiative, they can demonstrate that they deserve a second chance.”
A big component of Youth Court is counseling, which interns from Fordham University assist with. The long-term goal is to deter and prevent juvenile delinquency and drug abuse.
The time commitment for student volunteers is two hours two days a week. The training is rigorous and multi-faceted.
What’s been especially heartening for Holy Child volunteers is that some of the teens they’ve helped want to join the Community Youth Court as well.