15th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
ACYF Commissioner's Award Book
Deacon Ricky Bernard Shelton
Youth in Action, Inc.
Ricky Bernard Shelton, a founder and volunteer of Georgia's Youth in Action, Inc. contributed to defining the organization's mission. Youth in Action strives to enhance the lives of young males in Ben Hill County academically, socially, physically, and economically by providing a school monitoring program together with after school and summer initiatives. Currently, the organization offers 25 to 30 young males between the ages of 4 to 18 a safe place to learn during the most critical time of the day.
Mr. Shelton truly believes that by fulfilling the mission of Youth in Action he and other volunteers will be able to prevent child abuse and neglect. Volunteers receive notice when young males in the community experience truancy issues or require tutorial or social assistance. Referrals come from school personnel, the Ben Hill County Department of Family and Children's Services, Juvenile Court, Department of Juvenile Justice, parents, or the young people themselves.
He and other volunteers make home visits and assess the young man and his family to identify how Youth in Action can help to better the life of each young male individually. Volunteers provide the needed services or refer the young male and his family to the appropriate community resource. Mr. Shelton also strives to help the youngsters to make a spiritual rather than a gang connection. Short-term benefits of Youth in Action include the opportunity to obtain assistance from community resources before it is necessary for the Department of Family and Children's Services to become involved with their families, regular school attendance and subsequent graduation, and the development of more and better-educated young men who are able to obtain employment, become self-sufficient, and realize better futures.
Mr. Shelton also hosts car washes, weight lifting tournaments, and sporting events to raise funds to take the young participants on field trips and to sporting events in the community. For some events, Mr. Shelton purchases all of the supplies and awards so that the organization will make a profit and to teach the young men participants that working brings its rewards.
Mr. Shelton believes his involvement will prevent parents from abusing their young male children because parents are aware that someone will be checking in on their child and visiting him at school. His involvement also helps to build the child's self-esteem and to demonstrate that someone cares about his future and his success.