Berkshire Juvenile's Kinetic in the Courts Program Graduates First Class
The Kinetic in the Courts Program, a collaborative effort between Berkshire Juvenile Court and Williams College, will graduate its very first class this week at the court. This first-time summer program encourages young adults to identify and analyze community problems and develop solutions.
Kinetic in the Courts is an alternative sentencing partnership which pairs Williams College students with juveniles on probation who together selected bullying as a community issue to examine. The program participants—two college students and four court-involved juveniles—presented a video and interactive story and game—demonstrating the causes and effects of bullying— at the graduation ceremony yesterday.. The students are also planning to present their findings at a Pittsfield school board meeting this fall.
“They identified the problem, brainstormed what needs to be changed and who has the power to change it,” said Berkshire Juvenile Probation Officer Nancy Macauley who managed the program. “The juveniles are being introduced to life on campus and learning valuable problem solving skills.”
The college students received hands-on experience working with court-involved juveniles while the juveniles spent six weeks over the summer developing their analytical and problem solving skills as well as enjoying activities on the Williams College campus such as writing, videography, and sports. The college transported the children to the school several times a week.
As part of their research, the Williams College students interviewed two police officers, one was a middle school safety officer; School Superintendent Jason McCandless; a director of a teen girls summer camp; and a middle school teacher. The juveniles helped create a short anti-bullying video as well as an interactive fiction story that allows the reader to explore the viewpoints of both the bully and the victim of the bullying.
“Kinetic is a student-run organization which works to find creative solutions to problems Williams students see in the Berkshires. It is an extra-curricular activity where more than 50 students tackle issues that range from homelessness to food insecurity to mental health,” explained Williams student and Kinetic Participant Olivia Larsen.
Larsen added, “Kinetic in the Courts was developed when our Issues Team focused on juvenile empowerment in the judicial court system. We thought about how kids from Pittsfield would likely have a much more complete picture of the issues that face teens and use the Kinetics model to tackle those issues. Our biggest source of information about bullying was from the kids themselves. They spend every day in the schools and see the ways in which bullying affects themselves and their friends. We’ve done brainstorming activities that ask the kids to reflect on their own experiences.”
“The Kinetic in the Courts Program exemplifies a community partnership at its very best. This collaboration between the Juvenile Probation Department and Williams College opens up a new world to our clients and gives them an opportunity to engage in important conversations about their lives. This program also educates college students about the juvenile court system and the issues and challenges court-involved youth are faced with each day,” said Probation Commissioner Edward J. Dolan.
“We are very pleased to support this great problem-solving partnership between the Probation Service and Kinetic. Williams College students Olivia (Larsen) and William (Sager) have gained great insight from their experience which we hope will be a foundation for those who follow in their footsteps,” said Paula Consolini, Ph.D, Williams College’s Director of the Center for Learning in Action, which oversees the Kinetic Program at the college.