Four years ago,  Fulton County Juvenile Drug Court officials were in dire need of community support to provide cultural “underpinnings” for the Court’s Drug Court program.

Azalea City (GA) Chapter members presented a $200 check to Fulton County Juvenile Court Judge Philip Jackson (center) to assist with incentives for youth participate in Project SWAGG. Mustafa Mahdi, the Court’s drug program coordinator, (right) applauds the incentive.

While the Juvenile Drug Court’s mission is to reduce substance abuse and the recidivism of delinquent offenses associated with drug use and abuse, the program was not complete. There were no funds for “every day experiences” e.g., trips to restaurants, museums, sporting events or movies.  Nor were there resources to provide basic life skills training, such as table, social, and information technology etiquette.

The Court’s responsibility is to provide supervision and rehabilitative support to juvenile offenders between the ages of 12 and 17 who find themselves in the program as a result of inappropriate use and/or abuse of alcohol and/or illegal drugs. The Court’s goals are to provide immediate intervention, treatment, accountability and structure in the lives of juveniles who use alcohol/drugs through ongoing, active oversight and monitoring; and provide juveniles with skills that will aid them in leading productive substance free and crime-free lives, including skills that relate to their educational development, sense of worth, and capacity to develop positive relationships in the community.

A needs assessment revealed a gap in the provision of cultural enrichment activities. Azalea City’s Services to Youth Facet accepted the challenge to work with this population of youth and developed “Project Smart, Wise, Achieving Girls & Guys (SWAGG): Linking Success to Better Choices”  to provide monthly, year-round social and cultural activities to enhance personal growth. Court staff and Court-provided mentors are also invited and encouraged to attend Project SWAGG sessions.

Through Project SWAGG,  youth are exposed to educational, cultural, and civic experiences, paired mentors, and acquainted with career option and HBCUs as viable post-secondary options.

“The most outstanding quality of this program was the opportunity to serve the under-served,’ said Berranthia Brown, Co-Chair of Azalea City (GA) Chapter’s Services to Youth Facet.;”This program stressed competence, confidence, and character building and  exposed students to post-secondary educational experiences through the state’s Technical College System and our local historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).