Story and photos by Karette Fussell
Ventura Youth Correctional Facility

Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of a two-part series highlighting recent Integrated Behavioral Treatment Model (IBTM) practices at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility (VYCF). The overarching objective of rehabilitation is to make California safer. By providing the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills and to reinforce better decision making with positive reinforcement during incarceration, the IBTM elevates the rehabilitation of youthful offenders to a higher level of receptivity resulting in intrinsic change.

When a young person is able to make better decisions on their own, it galvanizes the kind of change that will follow them into the community and lead to pro-social outcomes.

Sportsmanship is important to rehabilitation, in that it promotes healthy competition, builds character, supports wellness and burns excess energy synonymous with a youthful population.

Ventura’s recent Summer Olympics were just the right activity to encourage healthy competition and sportsmanship while gaining a sense of hard-won accomplishment with energy constructively expended.

Events included track and field, tug- of war, swimming, an oversized soccer ball and more, culminating with an awards ceremony.  Winners were acknowledged for their standout athleticism, buoying them above the fray of the competition.

A “From the Curb to Car Event” was also held at VYCF on Aug. 25, featuring approximately 30 cars from the local 805 Car Club. The incentive-based event was available for youth that met preset behavioral criteria.

Robert Martinez, VYCF Maintenance Mechanic and representative of the Pachuco Car Club, spearheaded the event.

“About 75 percent of the car owners out here are from the neighborhoods of Ventura County,” Martinez told Gretchen Wenner of the Ventura County Star, who also attended the event. “A lot of us had our struggles, myself included. We worked through that. … We can relate.”

Classic cars rolled inside the institution and a barbecue meal was provided for youth and car club mentors.

Women who own cars interacted warmly with Ventura’s female population.

Many car clubs were present, such as Pachuco, Nosotros Car Club, Compas Unidos Car Club, Old Memories Car Club, Viejitos Car Club, Infinite Car Club, Switch Car Club, El Primer Vicio Car Club, All for One Car Club, City Life Car Club, and East Side Classics Car Club.

This car show provided mentorship from club members who are giving back to the youth at VYCF by encouraging them to make better choices in life.

Some car club members have faced similar challenges as some of the youth at the facility, but have persevered, overcome adversities, parlaying their life into success. Many are professionals, business owners and leaders in the local community.

These cars are the vision of the owners. They are works of art that metaphorically represent the limitless possibilities of transformation that can happen when refurbishing one’s life. The 805 Car Clubs promote family, peace, unity and respect for all people, regardless of race, creed or background. The clubs are known for giving back to the community and raising money for local charities.

Drivers trekked to the facility, showcased their cars free of charge and also donated funds toward the barbecue.

Youth, staff and visitors thoroughly enjoyed the event and are looking forward to future events that chase the same spirit of community mentorship.