Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Secretary Christina K. Daly, the Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation, members of the Florida Juvenile Justice Association and partners today honored the 2017 DJJ Youth Ambassadors at a reception at Florida’s Historic Capitol.
DJJ Youth Ambassadors are youth in the state of Florida who have turned their lives around for the better after contact with the juvenile justice system. These ambassadors serve as mentors and role models for other at-risk kids throughout the state.
“It is important that we take a closer look at the individual youth that come across our juvenile justice system and let their stories inspire us,” said DJJ Secretary Christina K. Daly. “Their stories push us forward in doing the best we can for all youth and remind us that when we come together to make a difference in the lives of others, we all achieve success.”
DJJ solicits nominations for the Youth Ambassador Award from providers, community stakeholders and the public-at-large. Youth receiving awards today are:
Jesus was court referred to the Empowered Youth program after committing a felony offense at the age of 15 years old. Jesus successfully completed the program in the required six-month period and has continued to excel in his accomplishments. Jesus has represented the Empowered Youth program at the White House and at numerous conferences both in and outside of the United States. Jesus has never reoffended since his original charge, is a high school graduate, and has enrolled in college where he plans to major in Criminal Justice. He aspires to become a juvenile probation officer so that he can continue to serve as a guide and mentor for other inner city young men like himself.
Alyssa is an advocate for survivors of sex trafficking and as a survivor herself, she has become a voice for those who have been silenced. Alyssa demonstrates a commitment to the needs of victims and survivors by dedicating her life’s work to the eradication of human trafficking. Sharing her experiences, Alyssa has been instrumental in effecting change at the public policy level. Alyssa’s own advocacy for survivors became personal when she testified against her traffickers resulting in their conviction and incarceration. Alyssa works at two organizations committed to the anti-trafficking movement, the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center and at Rethreaded, a nonprofit organization founded to provide work for those escaping addiction, violence, human trafficking and prostitution.
Youth Ambassadors received a certificate and Youth Investment Award from the Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation (FJJF), which is the direct support organization for DJJ. This is the seventh year that DJJ has recognized Youth Ambassadors.