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These retreats help participants set goals and develop a plan of action to become positive and productive members of their community, and use interactive journaling (IJ) as an evidence-based curriculum to help them determine how to achieve change from within between retreats.


Shaphat Outreach's Youth Retreats, called "Lock-In Before Lock-Up," focus on the following five concepts:

  • AWARENESS: Participants explore their cultural identity and ask themselves "Who am I?"

  • ASSESSMENT: Participants evaluate the resources available to them.

  • ACCEPTANCE: Participants take responsibility for the direction and purpose of their lives.

  • AIMS: Participants set goals and limits for themselves.

  • ACTION: Participants develop a plan of action to become positive and productive members of their community.

At the end of the retreat, participants make a written commitment to stay drug and gang-free. Between retreats, we meet with youth virtually using interactive journaling (IJ) as a curriculum. IJ is an evidence-based practice that has been shown to be effective in over 30 years of research. It is also included in the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices by SAMHSA. IJ combines elements of motivational interviewing and structured, experiential writing exercises to help youth assess their current situation and determine how to achieve change from within.

We use the "Courage To Change" and "Forward Thinking" curricula from the Change Companies for our IJ sessions. These curricula are structured and experiential, focusing on personal goals and motivation, and guiding participants through a series of "bite-sized" exercises to help them understand where they are, where they want to go, and how to get there. The "Courage To Change" curriculum covers the following topics:

  • Getting Started

  • Social Values

  • Responsible Thinking

  • Self-Control

  • Peer Relationships

  • Family Ties

  • Substance Use

  • Seeking Employment

  • Recreation and Leisure

The "Forward Thinking" journals cover the following:

  • What Got Me Here?

  • Individual Change Plan

  • Victim Awareness

  • Responsible Thinking

  • Handling Difficult Feelings

  • Relationships and Communication

  • Reentry Planning

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