The program, Choices Impact One's Future, a component of the Wayne County Summer Youth Employment and Training Program, was presented to over 40 teens and young adults recently at the Wayne County Senior Center, Wayne County Courthouse Complex, Honesdale.

The program, Choices Impact One's Future, a component of the Wayne County Summer Youth Employment and Training Program, was presented to over 40 teens and young adults recently at the Wayne County Senior Center, Wayne County Courthouse Complex, Honesdale.

Created in 2005, Choices Impact One's Future was designed through a collaboration with SCI Retreat's State Corrections Health Care Administrator, Joe Mataloni; Impact Services, Inc. of Philadelphia Senior Advisor, Ray Jones; and Independent Consultant, Clarissa Wimmers of Honesdale.

In addition to Wayne County Summer Youth participants, Wayne County Department of Juvenile Probation referred teens, and participants in the Employment and Training Network observed. Staff from social service agencies and Wayne Memorial Hospital also attended. Perspectives were presented by prison and community program administrators. The agenda consisted of presentations by two ex-offenders who answered questions such as:

1. What choices did they make that led them to incarceration?

2. How old were they when they started making these choices?

3. Were drugs or alcohol involved?

4. Did they pay attention to adults or family about these choices?

5. What was incarceration like for them?

6. What was the hardest thing to get used to in prison?

7. What lessons did they learn?

8. How are they a different person now?

After the presentations, a video of prison life at SCI Retreat was shown followed by lunch with the presenters. The afternoon featured a question and answer segment.

Comments from the attendees included: "Do not hang with the wrong crowd," "Street life isn't that great," "I once did drugs — you helped me understand it isn't good for me," and "Thank you for the knowledge you shared today. You've given me more than enough to know how my actions control everything."

The program, Choices Impact One's Future, presents an opportunity for teens and young adults to learn how choices lead individuals to incarceration. Participants are given the opportunity to talk with ex-offenders to learn about: life in prison, choices that caused incarceration, the impact of incarceration on self and family, and short and long term health issues associated with incarceration.

Specifically, ex-offenders discuss how they changed their lives to become productive members of society through education and employment. Presenters stress the importance of a high school education with a diploma or GED, college and/or technical skills training.

Wayne County Summer Youth Employment and Training Program is administered by Wayne County Commissioners through Wayne County Job Training.