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VIDA Grads: 11-17y/o's Goal: Crime-Free Path Toward Adulthood, Sheriff's Youth Foundation #LASD

VIDA Graduating Class Breaks Barriers: 11-17 yr olds goal of setting them on crime-free path toward responsible adulthood, Sheriff’s Youth Foundation #LASD


When the 125-student Vital Intervention and Directional Alternatives (VIDA) Youth Class No. 25 assembled for its official graduation ceremony in June at Belvedere Middle School in East Los Angeles, the father of one of the graduating students approached Sgt. Mark Cripe of the VIDA program. “He told me that, before VIDA, he and his son — living under the same roof — had not spoken in two years,” Cripe said. “They literally had not shared any communication in two years.”

Those are the kinds of challenges VIDA faces with each of its classes. VIDA is a 16-week academy-style program for non-violent, medium- to high-risk youths ages 11 to 17, with the goal of setting them on a crime-free path toward responsible adulthood. Many come from broken homes or lack parental involvement, and are often referred to VIDA by courts and other government agencies.

The VIDA deputies have found that restoring family connections is often the key to success for the youths they counsel. “The biggest thing we have to do is teach a child and a parent how to communicate again,” Cripe said. “Sometimes they don’t even know where to begin.”

The June graduation featured special guest speaker, Assistant Sheriff Cecil Rhambo, along with the presentation of several awards, including a special honor for Finella White, a special education teacher from Palmdale who volunteers with VIDA and was recognized for her excellent work in helping the VIDA youths and their families.

The Lakewood VIDA team received the “Esprit de Corps” award, in recognition of their upset victory over Santa Clarita Valley in the VIDA Games, the program’s own Olympic-style competition. Cripe said this spring’s VIDA Games were especially spirited. “The families really get into it. The energy is unbelievable. It’s the first time a lot of these parents have had a chance to cheer their kids on in any kind of event.”

As a whole, Cripe said, VIDA Class No. 25 overcame a bit of a rough start but finished strong. As is often the case, once those initial communication barriers were overcome, real progress was made. “We were very proud of all the kids who graduated, raised their grades and reduced truancy,” Cripe said. “Some of those challenges are tough — and they overcame them.”

And the father who hadn’t spoken to his son in two years? Well, father and son are now talking, thanks to VIDA. “The father was very thankful for that — for helping them get back to where they could communicate again and share,” Cripe said. “That’s a big plus for us, to get that conversation happening. For us as facilitators, that is the big reward.”

VIDA is one of the seven programs offered through the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in partnership with the Sheriff’s Youth Foundation . For more information about the VIDA program, visit www.VIDA.LA


* ALTADENA VIDA - Loma Alta Elementary School - 3544 N. Canon Boulevard, Altadena, CA 91001 (626) 798-1131 Ext 2617

* CENTURY VIDA SITE OFFICE - Firestone Youth Activities League Center - 7901 Compton Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90001 (323) 586-7250. SITE - Drew Middle School - 8511 Compton Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90001

* EAST LOS ANGELES VIDA SITE OFFICE - East Los Angeles Sheriff’s Station - 5901 E. Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90022 (323) 264-4151 EXT 4540
SITE - Belvedere Middle School - 312 N. Record Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90063

* LAKEWOOD VIDA SITE OFFICE - Lakewood Sheriff’s Station - 5130 N. Clark Avenue, Lakewood, CA 90712 (562) 623-3500. SITE - Artesia High School - 12108 Del Amo Boulevard, Lakewood, CA 90715

* LANCASTER VIDA SITE OFFICE AND SITE - 1040 West Avenue J, Lancaster, CA 93535 (661) 949-6585

* LENNOX VIDA SITE OFFICE AND SITE - Lennox’s Youth Activities League Center - 11911 S. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90044 (323) 242-8784

* PALMDALE VIDA SITE OFFICE AND SITE - Oaktree School - 37230 37TH Street East, Palmdale, CA 93550 (661) 456-3011

* SANTA CLARITA VIDA Site OFFICE AND SITE - Sequoia Charter School - 21445 Center Pointe Parkway, Santa Clarita, CA 91351 (661) 510-0881

* TEMPLE VIDA SITE OFFICE - Temple Sheriff's Station - 8838 E. Las Tunas Drive, Temple City, CA 91780 (626) 285-7171 ext. 3452 (626) 292-3349. SITE - Temple City High School - 9501 E. Lemon Avenue, Temple City, CA 91780


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