The residents of a juvenile rehabilitation center in Chehalis have launched their first formal peer-to-peer mentoring program.
The program, called the M.A.D.E Men Peer Mentoring Program, originated with an inmate named Muhamed, a young adult who transferred to Green Hill School (GHS) from the Department of Corrections with the implementation of JR to 25, a piece of legislation passed in 2019 that raised the age of defendants that qualified for juvenile rehabilitation from 18 years old to 25.
“Muhamed has experienced tremendous growth during his incarceration. Seeing a need among his peers and realizing he could make a difference, Muhamed approached GHS’s administration with his peer mentoring idea and was asked to write a proposal,” said GHS administration in a press release. “From there, the M.A.D.E. Men Peer Mentoring Program quickly took shape.”
M.A.D.E., which stands for “making a difference every day,” is intended to support struggling residents who could benefit from peer support.
“Sometimes residents need someone to talk to them at their level, to help them understand better what staff are trying to provide,” Muhamed said, according to the press release, which didn’t include his last name.
Muhamed identified a small group of young adults at GHS who shared his vision. Meeting regularly, they developed the program proposal as a team, and together they presented the final proposal to GHS management, centering on helping young people at GHS focus on long-term goals, take advantage of programs and contribute to their community in positive ways.
The M.A.D.E. Men team will receive peer mentoring training over the next five weeks, which will equip them with the tools and skills needed to fully support their peers, according to the press release.
The youth mentor roles will be treated as work-based learning positions with wages to support reentry, thanks to funding and support from partners at Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR).
This program aligns with the facility’s strategic priority to transition youths into adulthood with therapeutic environments and enhanced availability of services and support, according to the press release.
GHS is a medium/maximum security fenced facility for older males sentenced to Juvenile Rehabilitation operated by the Washington state Department of Children, Youth and Families. Visit www.dcyf.wa.gov/services/juvenile-rehabilitation/residential-facilities/green-hill for more information.