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April 25, 2018

Project LIFT: Helping troubled teens through mentoring, skill building

Project LIFT (Life Initiative for Teens) is dedicated to improving lives of at-risk teens through substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, vocational skills training and mentoring.

What Does Project LIFT do?

Licensed therapists and skilled tradesman work intensely with small groups of teens to replace negative behaviors with self-esteem utilizing skilled trades to elicit positive outcomes for the future. We provide transportation for all participants. The program is 14 weeks for five hours, four days a week, with continued after-care.

How does it benefit the community?

Project LIFT is committed to fostering success by transforming troubled teens into independent, competent and productive citizens in our community.

Drug and alcohol addiction, juvenile delinquency, truancy, gang involvement, physical altercations, depression and low self-esteem are just some of the struggles we see in teenagers that come to Project LIFT. These teens are at high risk of slipping through the cracks, simply because their mental health needs have not been met.

Lacking a strong familial support system, many are more likely to engage in delinquent behaviors. Most are socially and economically disadvantaged and do not have access to proper services.

For teens who participate in Project LIFT, 83 percent graduate alcohol and drug free, 72 percent of members involved in the criminal justice system do not reoffend, and 60 percent of graduates are employed in one of the eight different vocational opportunities offered here at Project LIFT.

What is the agency’s focus for the future?

After seven years of successfully serving teenagers in Martin County, Project LIFT is duplicating this transformative program in Belle Glade in Palm Beach County. Thanks to the generosity of The Batchelor Foundation, Impact the Palm Beaches, and The Quantum Foundation, we will be able to open our doors to work with troubled teens in the Glades area, offering promise to this underserved population.

How can the community help?

Project LIFT is always on the search for mentors/volunteers with positive values who utilize situational and socially acceptable behaviors as a foundation for encouraging a more favorable life outcome. Volunteers and members are afforded an opportunity to be a part of a unique program that fosters a sound environment for the growth of family functioning, work readiness, sobriety, and mental health. Currently, we are seeking people who could volunteer from three to six hours a week mentoring in the following areas: welding, car mechanic, carpentry, silk screening, boat building, electrical and graphic design. For those who don’t have the time to volunteer, but would like to make an impact with a donation, they can visit our website at www.ProjectLIFTMC.com or call 772-221-2244.

A few key programs under this initiative include:

Vocational Training: Members are offered a paid pre-apprentice mentorship and taught a trade. Staff and Volunteers provide development and training opportunities in areas such as automobile repair and restoration, appliance repair, electricity, carpentry, agriculture, silk screening, tailoring and upholstery, and boat building — all of which are extremely popular with teens. Project LIFT not only seeks out donated vehicles and boats; but also has world-class boat designers and builders donating their time and talent.

Life Skills Development: Project LIFT believes if you work, you get paid. Instilling a work ethic in today’s youth is no small task. By paying teens for the hours they work, it allows them to realize the results of their productivity. Not only are they learning valuable skills for a future trade, but they are also understanding the important underlying abilities of keeping a job, such as showing up on time, keeping a positive attitude and working in teams. Mentors work with teens to teach them valuable work skills and reinforce positive values. For some of our participants, this is the one trusted adult in their life.

Community Service: Part of the paradigm shift in thinking is directly related to our ability to teach participants the joy of giving back to the community. For example, our participants have been responsible for giving away over 70 cars to needy families, 450 pounds of food to feed the hungry and performing more than 500 no cost auto repairs. In this evolution of behavior, teens make the transition from being takers to givers creating opportunities for deeper moral reasoning. Teens get to see the difference they can make in another’s life, thus building self-respect and self-esteem. As one teen participant said, “I use to steal cars, now I give them away.”

Note: Information shared for public awareness with reference from the information provided at online news portals.

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