Local Youth Authority good for community | TheUnion.com

Local Youth Authority good for community

Regarding the Jan. 29 Associated Press article, “Young inmates caged and drugged,” I would like to let readers know what happens at the California Youth Authority camp in their community.

Washington Ridge is a camp with highly trained counselors and support staff. The California Department of Forestry personnel are trained to work with and teach these wards forest management.

You may have seen the large red CYA trucks around town. The crews clear out brush and clear snow and brush-clogged streams.

There are many other community projects in which they participate.

They often volunteer on their days off to help with Habitat for Humanity and assist elderly individuals who need help around their homes.

These wards are paid a small wage. This is used to buy hygiene supplies and “treats.” Part of the wage goes for restitution for their crimes.

This is a CYA camp, where the wards learn to live in a community that is often unfamiliar to them. This is where they have caring adults showing concern for their well-being. The counselors present classes on anger management, drug abuse and victim awareness, In these classes, the wards learn how their victims feel and the impact on the family.

All of us are trying to show a different and a more positive side of life.

When I started working at the CYA as a teacher for the high school, it was difficult to understand the values that had helped these young men survive. Their environment and values were so different.

In the past 10 years, I have seen many successes. The high school program helps wards complete their high school education. One of the counselors helps them start on college courses. There are special-education classes for those who need the added help. It is gratifying to see how eagerly these courses are accepted.

CDF teaches firefighting and how to use tools, and emphasizes responsibility. Many local fires, as well as the big one in Los Angeles, were fought by our CYA team.

We receive happy letters and calls from our graduated wards. That is why I wanted readers to know the other side of the story.

Evelyn Hunt lives in Grass Valley.

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