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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
December 19, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General

 

Tracy Munford
973-504-6341 or 609-571-5101
Robert O’Leary
908-527-4621

 
PROJECT VISION - Changing Lives...
New Jersey Attorney General, Union County Prosecutor to Tour and Meet
with Junior High School Students at State’s First Gang Prevention Partnership
with Union County

50 Plainfield Students Have Joined an Initiative at the Boys and Girls Club
of Union County, Plainfield Clubhouse

New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey and Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow joined the Plainfield Boys and Girls Club of Union County, Plainfield Clubhouse and nearly 50 students from Hubbard and Maxon Junior High Schools for a visit and tour of PROJECT VISION-PLAINFIELD, the first gang prevention partnership between the state and Union County.

PROJECT-VISION-PLAINFIELD joins other PROJECT VISION Programs in New Jersey. The PROJECT VISION initiative is an outgrowth of the Attorney General’s Gangs, Guns and Drugs initiative. PROJECT VISION is an after-school program created by the Attorney General as a partnership with county prosecutors and community based organizations to support and establish after school programs throughout New Jersey that provide safe havens for children and teens. The theme for PROJECT VISION is “Protecting Our Future, Preparing Our Children.” The essential mission of PROJECT VISION is to surround children with caring adults and teach lessons and skills that will turn youth away from gangs. The eight core elements of PROJECT VISION are personal responsibility, caring adults, safe havens, personal safety, academic development, life skills, career awareness and community service.

“PROJECT VISION gives children a vision of themselves for tomorrow. Youth violence related to gang activity is growing and robbing young people of their future and turning our communities into firing ranges,” said Attorney General Harvey. “We are punishing those who commit gang related crimes, but we also must turn youth away from the false glamour of gang life through educational outreach. The core mission of PROJECT VISION is to provide that outreach and help us win the battle for our children.”

"This is a vitally important effort that helps divert young people away from the system and we have been proud to have lawyers and detectives from the prosecutor's office work side by side with the Boys and Girls Club in Plainfield," said Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow, whose office is administering the program. "Attorney General Harvey has been a prime moving force behind Project Vision from the start and he has been relentless in making sure the young people at risk find real alternatives to hanging out of the streets."

Students enrolled in PROJECT VISION - PLAINFIELD receive personal responsibility lessons that emphasize decision-making skills, fair play and respect for others and self. Lessons in personal safety include instruction about the dangers of gangs. A $43,000 grant was awarded to the Union County Prosecutor’s Office for PROJECT VISION from the Division of Criminal Justice.

PROJECT VISION programs are also being implemented in Asbury Park in Monmouth County and Irvington in Essex County. Project Vision is a statewide initiative that is being funded by the Office of the Attorney General to 21 county prosecutors for a Project Vision Program in their respective county. Programs currently exist in New Brunswick in Middlesex County, Glassboro in Gloucester County, and Bridgeton in Cumberland County.

Paul Casey, Director for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Union County – Plainfield Club said, “The partnership that has been created between the Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County, Plainfield Club, the Attorney General’s Office and the Union County Prosecutor has proven to be very beneficial to many teens in the Plainfield Community. PROJECT VISION has helped to provide additional gang prevention programs and it has enabled the Boys & Girls Clubs the opportunity to enhance the programs that it was currently running. The Club recently took 45 young people on a leadership camping trip that helped develop communication, conflict resolution and teamwork skills. These skills all help improve the decision making skills for young people in Plainfield and it will assist in their ability to stay away from gangs.”


PROJECT VISION – PLAINFIELD CURRICULUM

  • Element 1: Develop a Sense of Personal Responsibility

    Action:
    Create and/or expand programs through the Plainfield Boys and Girls Club addressing decision-making skills, personal appearance, and respect for oneself and others. The following program activities will help develop skills for getting along with others, problem solving, communicating, goal setting, decision-making, and will give young people a sense of competency and individual worth:

    • Dressing for Success will be incorporated into he programs offered to Project Vision participants. Dressing for Success teaches members the importance of proper hygiene and their personal appearance.
    • Goals for Graduation - To enhance young people’s ability to develop set and achieve appropriate academic goals and further their success in school
    • Torch Club - its primary focus is the development of character and leadership skills through the development of their own agreed upon programs, activities, and participation in the community. This program will enable youth to define ways to develop and continually improve strategies to achieve positive self esteem
  • Element 2: Surround the Child with Caring Adults

    Action:
    The program will surround the child with adults who can help maintain a caring atmosphere and serve as role models.

    • Enlist aid of Community partners who are in the business of caring and providing services to the youth. Also, recruit individuals from both inside and outside of the Prosecutor’s office to work with students.
    • With the help of the Prosecutor’s Office partner with local law enforcement associations to offer opportunities for law enforcement officers to work with youth in a non-confrontational atmosphere.
    • Partner with local colleges, such as Union County College, and Seton Hall University to provide students to the program to act as tutors and to develop mentor-like relationships with our youth.
    • Youth will be given the opportunity to interact with and learn from business professionals as needed, to enhance program curriculum.
    • Smart Moves - this program is based on a resistance training/social skills model that uses small group activities to teach young people to recognize and resist media influences and peer pressures to engage in alcohol, tobacco, other drug use and early sexual involvement.
  • Element 3: Provide a Safe Place

    Action:
    The program will be located at the Plainfield Boys and Girls Club. Transportation will be provided to the Club through a reimbursement agreement between the Club and the County of Union starting at Maxson Middle School which is 1 ½ miles away and then picking members up at Hubbard Middle School in order to provide safe transportation.

  • Element 4: Ensure a Child’s Personal Safety

    Action:
    Program participants will be educated to the dangers of everyday life, the avoidance of these dangers, how to deal with them if confronted by them.

    • Physical safety will be addressed via self-defense classes for youth
    • Start Smart - A nationally recognized program that teaches the potential consequences of your actions, and deals with the physical and emotional changes associated with adolescence. Addressed are issues such as mental safety and integrity, drug prevention, date rape, domestic violence, gang, and other violence preventions.
  • Element 5: Support a Child’s Academic Development

    Action:
    Programs will be provided to ensure academic success and appropriate follow-up

    • Power Hour: Making Minutes Count - This program takes place within the first hour of students coming to the Club. Boys and Girls Club staff, college mentors, and community volunteers provide homework help and tutoring and encourage members to become self-directed learners. A well-rounded approach of Club staff, student, teacher, and parent involvement is utilized to track the child’s progress.
  • Element 6: Develop Useful Skills

    Action:
    This will create and expand existing programming and will provide participants with essential life skills to become productive adults.

    • Street SMART - this initiative consists of three program areas: conflict resolution, gang prevention, and peer leadership. Members have the opportunity to utilize the skills they have learned as a means of communicating with other at-risk youth through this program.
    • Goals for Graduation - this teaches and inspires members to develop clear educational outcomes and goals.
    • Value of teamwork through recreational game room activities and tournaments
  • Element 7: Open Career Awareness

    Action:
    The program will give participants opportunities to learn about career paths to become productive adults:

    • Career Club will help participants to develop greater interest and appreciation of the world of work and provide them with greater knowledge of potential careers and the role of education in success. It will also increase their decision-making skills, begin to develop individual career goals and assist with pursuing education and training in support of their career interests.
    • Junior Staff Career Development - offers guest speakers in professions that include criminal justice, healthcare, social services, and many other businesses.
  • Element 8: Return Service to the Community

    Action:
    Foster a sense of community pride and spirit through creating volunteer projects.

    • Discussions and opportunities for Community Service and volunteerism
    • Volunteer at Public Library to work with pre-school kids
    • Orientation to Helping - This small group program gives members the opportunity to experience firsthand what it is like to help others. Both the Club and community are the settings for these experiences. Each member is challenged to volunteer in at least two different areas for a total of 40 hours of service. Working in teams with an adult advisor, participants identify and complete at least two projects providing community service. Trips to local nursing homes where members can provide assistance to the elderly and beautification of the surrounding community are some of the options that will be offered to participants. This program will also include group trips to other agencies

In addition to the above participants will be part of Beyond These Walls. This program will give members the opportunity to experience life outside of their own community. Through field trips such as white water rafting, camping, Broadway plays, and museum trips, children will see that there is much more to life than the stress-filled streets of Plainfield.

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