Our service to the young people is to serve them and their families providing opportunities they need to realize their full potentials as responsible, productive, and caring citizens by offering a safe and stable environment along with an array of national proven programming. Transitional Zone Inc. is in a unique position to bring about dramatic, measurable changes in the lives of the Greater Laurel area youth.
The needs of the Greater Laurel area are immense. With a poverty rate of 51.2 percent, the Greater Laurel area ranks by some estimates as one of the poorest areas in America. Greater Laurel area extraordinary poverty is most evident in the ills pervading its youth, including low state test scores, high rates of crime and drug use, and one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country. Additionally 73.8 per cent of our participants are eligible for free or reduced lunch.
The Transitional Zone Inc. program has experienced remarkable success serving the community’s at-risk youth. Since its opening in 2010, the program has grown to serve 500 participants yearly, with approximately 48 children and family members attending each day.
During the program, children find a qualified, caring team of volunteers and staff members who provide a safe, maturing space in which participants can grow and flourish. The program opens its doors every weekday after school from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., the hours when young people are most often unsupervised and susceptible to negative outside influences.
To ensure measurable gains in its participants’ lives, Transitional Zone Inc. offers nationally recognized programming in five key areas: Character and Leadership Development; Education and Career Development; Health and Life Skills; the Arts; and Sports, Fitness, and Recreation. Independent research has confirmed the effectiveness of the Transitional Zone Inc. model. Studies by the Columbia university School of Social Work and the American Health foundation have demonstrated that, compared to peers in similar programs, Transitional zone Inc. participants show a marked increase in school attendance and grade point average, as well as a substantial decrease in juvenile crime rates, drug use, and other risky behaviors.
During Transitional hour, participants take time to complete their homework each day before moving to physical recreation or other programming. Under the guidance of staff and trained volunteers, children receive help in specific content areas as well as assistance with general learning strategies and study skills. Participants receive bonus points for every assignment they complete and can exchange these points for various rewards. Additionally, with the support of parents, staff members track members’ grades to ensure the work and training received in the program translates to measurable academic improvement at school. Participants that need extra help with homework receive one on one tutoring.
In additional o the direct educational support children receive, they also received physical and emotional support through targeted programs such as the STEM training under the auspices of the University of Maryland Faculty. In these age and gender specific programs, young people receive comprehensive health and life skills training to ensure they are equipped with the skills they need to make healthy choices in an environment that too often fosters destructive behavior.
Whether participants are completing homework training, participating in physical activities, or mastering critical health and life skills, they are constantly under the close supervision of caring adults. With constant exposure to and interaction with these role models, the program’s young people develop the sound character and values they need to thrive. In fact, in a recent national survey, 80 percent of young people said that staff members and volunteers’ helped them ”learn right from wrong.”