(BRAZIL) – They’re only young once and Indiana teens still need mentoring and bonding despite Covid-19, say leaders of the new Indiana Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch.
So, sheriffs say they will begin operations at their not-for-profit youth academy with socially distanced weekend retreats starting next month. Ten teenagers selected by their local law enforcement and school officials will be the sheriffs’ guests Oct. 2 and 3. They are the first of 200 at-risk youth who are expected to visit this fall and next spring.
“ISYR’s property was purchased, our K-9 academy was leased, demolition and excavation on unsafe and unwanted structures were completed and several naming rights sponsors were already identified when the pandemic hit us,” said former Marion County Sheriff John Layton, ISYR’s board president.
Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel, an ISYR vice president added, “These teens are only young once. Sheriffs and deputies have only one opportunity to mentor and bond with them at this age. Safety was always a guiding principle of our mission. So, we’re moving forward with our mentoring and bonding – with an added emphasis on health and safety.”
For now, teens visiting the Youth Ranch will be taking temperatures, wearing masks and carrying hand sanitizer, Noel said. “While we have 200 youth scheduled, we are limiting groups to 10 students each and safely spacing their recreation, eating and sleeping.
Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux, treasurer of the statewide not-for-profit, said students attending weekend retreats will learn about K-9 handling, drone use, search-and-rescue techniques, substance abuse and cyberbullying in addition to enjoying basketball, archery, fishing, hiking, canoeing and safe ATV riding.
ISYR’s 62-acre training retreat is located in West Central Indiana, but is open to all teens and public safety agencies across the state. As the pandemic subsides and fundraising continues, sheriffs hope to host 100 students each week during the summer in addition to weekend retreats in the spring and fall of each academic year, Gladieux said.
Layton said to donate or for more information, write to the Indiana Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch, 5325 N. State Road 59, Brazil, IN 47834.