New Life Movement’s Reactions program promotes positive interactions between at-risk youth ages 12-24 and their peers, teachers, employers, and/or other authority figures, with a focus on identifying and addressing conditions that motivate youth to display disruptive behavioral patterns harmful both to their interpersonal, academic, and professional relationships, as well as to their own personal development. These conditions often include mental illness, substance abuse disorders, anger management challenges, and environmental safety issues that are exacerbated by the rampant poverty and negative social influences pervasive in many of the neighborhoods in Richmond where our youth participants live.
New Life mentors meet with 15-20 youth participants 2-3 times per week at their respective schools, where they engage in activities that promote conflict resolution, healthy interpersonal communication, emotional resilience, and informed decision-making skills (all through a trauma-informed lens), with the goal of providing participants with the tools needed to mindfully mitigate potentially volatile interactions with their peers and adult authority figures. Program participants are referred to New Life Movement by their teachers, school administrators, probation officers, and parents – and are also often recruited directly off the streets by New Life mentors – based on instances of truancy, acting out in class, fighting, drug use, and other delinquent behavior. Because Reactions program mentors also grew up with and overcame challenges that lead to such behaviors, our staff is able to connect deeply and authentically with at-risk Richmond youth in order to inspire real and lasting personal growth – laying the foundation for our participants to become positive and productive pillars in their community.