Building Character: Strength Based Skill Building Program At Bench Mark

New program at Bench Mark Program looks to build character, strength.

Bench Mark Program is focused on investing in at-risk youth by providing positive, long-lasting support needed to achieve future goals and success. The program matches youth from the community with mentors who also act as trainers, teaching kids through weightlifting, exercise, academic counseling, and career development. The guidance these mentors give provides sustainable leadership training and growth. Fig Lancaster is partnering with Bench Mark Program all year long as part of the Community Supporter program (read more about it here).

There is a new program offered through Bench Mark Program in contract with Lancaster County Juvenile Probation. This program, called Strength Based Skill Building Program, started in September 2018 to help create a positive way forward for these young men to find success.

“Young men on juvenile probation find themselves needing to make a critical decision: do they continue down their current path and transition into the adult justice system or do they change and become contributing members of society?” said Darren Landis, Program Director. “The SBSB program is designed to give them the tools and the confidence they need to choose the latter. Our community will benefit greatly if they choose to become contributing members.”

It Starts With Coaching

This is a 90 day program that an young man’s probation officer refers them to. It is capped at twelve individuals so the mentorship can be customized and specifically intentional to each student.

“One of the rewards that stands out to me is being trusted to mentor our students,” said Darren. “It is extremely rewarding to know that the students, the parents, the county, and Bench Mark Program trust me to come alongside students and spark positive change.”

This coaching mentorship is key in providing a successful path forward for these young men. Many do not have a role model before coming to the program, and many need help walking through the justice system, communication skills, workforce management, and legality of being part of the community.

“It’s an intensive mentoring process,” added Darren. “Almost every day we work out with some sort of physical fitness and then work on the critical life skills.”

A typical day entails the mentors picking the student up, driving to the gym, a physical fitness session, a mindfulness session, mentor programming, and finally the ride home. This relationship is critical to providing the student with a strong foundation to navigate the challenges they are facing, and to build towards getting on a sustainable positive direction. 

Building A Future Of Success

To achieve this future of success, the Strength Based Skill Building Program focuses on the following goals:

  • Achievement of physical fitness goals and understanding of goal setting process
  • Increased student preparedness for the modern workforce
  • Improved attendance at school and behavior in the classroom
  • Increased occurrence of healthy interaction between student, family, and peers
  • Completed community service hours and progress toward satisfying restitution
  • Improved ability to focus, control emotions, and present opinions in a professional manner
  • Improved feeling of self-confidence and positive self-image
  • Feeling of community among the students in the program

“Two nights ago a student told me that this program is ‘where I get rid of my stress,'” said Darren. “That was such a simple but impactful statement to hear.”

Darren and the team hope to continue offering specialized speakers to come in and discuss professional areas of growth with the students—like law enforcement, attorneys, and business CEOs.

“We want the students to learn as much as they can about the community,” added Darren. “That is critical to their growth.”

How You Can Help

For this Strength Based Skill Building Program to be a success, and for Bench Mark Program to continue to grow, there is a huge opportunity for Lancaster to step in and help.

“There are two main ways the community can help this program grow,” said Darren. “The first is for qualified candidates to volunteer their time as a guest speaker at the SBSB program and to share their expertise with our students. They can also volunteer as a mentor with Bench Mark Program’s regular program. The second avenue is to make a charitable donation to Bench Mark Program. This program uses the BMP infrastructure to operate so the more BMP has to offer, the more SBSB can offer our young men.”

The impact in assisting these young men with sustainable growth will only create a more successful community for everyone.

“We really have lofty goals here at Bench Mark Program. Our ability to meet those goals, however, rests with the community. The more support we receive from the community, the better able we are to reach our goals.”

Make a big difference in Lancaster by supporting Bench Mark Program and the Strength Based Skill Building Program. Find out more on the website and help make an impact.


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