Dandelions Are Flowers Too Youth Services Inc. (D.A.F.T.), is a non-profit organization with a mission to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline amongst students of color in Newburgh, NY by getting to the root of behavioral issues through social and emotional development.
Restorative Justice is at the core of D.A.F.T. programming. D.A.F.T.’s Restorative Justice (RJ) coordinators are assigned to a student attending Newburgh Free Academy High School who is experiencing behavioral or academic issues to work individually with the student and their family to help identify the root of the problem and provide resources for the whole family.
RJ coordinators facilitate Restorative Justice Circles (RJC), a sacred space for students to engage in dialogue about local and global issues to help kids and their families heal from trauma, violence, racial oppression, and other systemic issues facing communities of color. D.A.F.T. recognizes that students are often experiencing a disruption in the educational process because of disadvantages in their communities. RJC’s are a safe space for students to talk about their concerns and learn how to cope and unpack self-esteem related issues, social skills, life skills training, health, social media, bullying, sexual health, and engage in group therapy facilitated by therapist consultants. Since much of what students are struggling with are rooted in issues at home, we've opened up RJC workshops for parents who need help in workforce training, resume writing, and skill building.
To help students take on responsibility and boost self-esteem, we encourage students to be leaders in these spaces and give them the opportunity to facilitate dialogue. The open, judgment-free zone allows students to recognize that their peers have similar feelings and they are not alone. RJC’s are essential to D.A.F.T. youth services because they help guide students and families to foster qualities of love, respect, faith, integrity, and self-discipline.
Funded by Newburgh, NY (September 2021)