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Juvenile Justice students crafting a better future for themselves

Craft Training Center
Posted at 6:14 PM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-20 21:25:29-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Nine Juvenile Justice students will be spending the week crafting a better future for themselves … quite literally.

The students are currently on probation and were chosen by their probation officers to participate in a week-long trade skills camp.

“I’m really looking forward to doing more stuff here hands-on," says Andrew, one of the students attending the camp. "So I can learn how to do it so when I get out I can maybe come over here myself and enroll."

This is the first camp of its kind in the Coastal Bend.

It is a partnership between the Craft Training Center and Hammons Education to Employment Leadership Program (HELP), a local non-profit organization.

The students will be learning skills in welding, electric instrumentation, plumbing, and other trades. The organizations typically hold training for middle and high school students, but this is the first time they are bringing in juvenile justice students.

“We want it to work for them better," says Dr. Ridge Hammons, director of HELP. "And we think giving them more options and more opportunities will just kind of lighten up their world with hope."

Hammons has been running HELP for 13 years, but this is the first time he has set up a camp for juvenile justice students.

Matt Opel, a staff member at Craft Training Center, says the skills-training courses provide hope to some of the young people in the program.

"A lot of these kids have almost been in a situation where they don’t see a way out, so this gives them that opportunity to see a window and for a world where they can provide for a family they grow themselves," Opel said.

The camp runs through the end of the week and will end with a "graduation" celebration for the students.