Getting Kids on the Right Path Judges Can Sentence Juvenile Offenders to Outdoor Challenge
Susnjara, Bob, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Bob Susnjara Daily Herald Staff Writer
Tucked in pristine woods where a neat wood-chip path meanders toward the Des Plaines River, a group of youths climbed rope and participated in other events like they were in day camp.
But the woods in question were on the Robert W. Depke Juvenile Justice Complex property on Milwaukee Avenue near Vernon Hills, which means something more serious than day camp was happening.
More than 100 juvenile offenders on probation and court supervision have participated in "Junior's Challenge - A Journey Into Yourself" since it opened about five months ago. The challenge is an additional option available to juvenile court judges when sentencing delinquent minors.
Lake County Circuit Court officials hosted a tour of the course Thursday. The Junior's Challenge features a low- and high-ropes course designed to encourage teamwork, leadership, conflict resolution, communication skills and self-esteem building.
It's hoped the juveniles walk way from the Lake County course realizing every decision has a consequence. Officials said hands-on programs such as Junior's Challenge have been proven to eliminate a juvenile's lack of trust or poor self-esteem, which contribute to delinquent behavior.
"This is a really cool course that has all the earmarks for success," Chief Judge Jane Drew Waller said in a ceremony before the tour.
Waller said it costs taxpayers about $42,000 a year to send 12 juveniles downstate to participate in a similar outdoor-course program. …