RESPECT Project is a character building and mentoring program designed for teenage youth. Developed in 2014 by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, the 16-week program aims to reduce juvenile delinquency, lower recidivism, and offer alternatives to street gangs, substance abuse, and a life trapped in the criminal justice system. RESPECT Project offers decision-making skills, encouragement, and comprehensive resources to students and their families. In addition to weekly classes and mentoring, RESPECT Project also partners with healthy community groups, businesses, and faith-based organizations to supplement the program and further en-rich the students’ personal lives.
Sheriff’s Deputies and community members volunteer to mentor students and teach core topics related to character development. Guest speakers, such as reformed gang members, athletes, or local business owners, are frequently invited to share their life stories and offer valuable ad-vice to the group. Each class takes place in an uplifting atmosphere and provides students with positive role models, healthy friendships, physical activity, and hope for success.
Many juvenile programs have a narrow focus and limit participation from outside organizations and faith-based communities. RESPECT Project, however, effectively collaborates with several community groups and service providers to afford students tangible opportunities for lifelong development and personal growth. RESPECT Project mentors strive to build strong relation-ships with students to address all the struggles of today’s youth. Upon their successful comple-tion, graduates possess the necessary skills to make good decisions and improve the quality of life for their families and communities.