ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Leaders around Alamance County are banding together to change the path of crime and violence for young people and steer them into a better future.

The Alamance Juvenile Opportunity Bridge is a new program that works with the Division of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and Roots and Wings, Inc., to help 30 at-risk youth stay out of the courtrooms and stay in classrooms.

“This is designed to get students interested, excited, oriented to trades as well as other programs in our college,” said the President of Alamance Community College Dr. Algie Gatwood.

With the help of $60,000 in grant funding from Alamance Impact, AJOB is an eight-week program geared towards juveniles that commit misdemeanor crimes or are on probation in the county that they can use as a second chance to change their lives.

“I believe as leaders, we are required to do something. So many people are working so hard within our community to help young people. This is just another tool to provide an additional option,” Alamance County District Court Judge Larry Brown Jr. said.

Brown told FOX8 the program took a year and a half to get off the ground with the help of the Alamance Burlington School System, local police agencies, the Alamance County Collunity College, Judicial Court 15A, the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.

“Young people must understand that you will in life be held responsible for your actions, but we, as leadership…have to provide an opportunity to say: ‘young people, if you choose the right direction, these are the positive things that can happen in your life,'” Brown said.

Brown told FOX8 he is overjoyed at the chance to better the lives of individuals by allowing them to have a hands-on experience in future careers.

AJOB starts in schools with resource officers who know the youth best. The SRO chooses the child best fit for the program instead of giving a petition to juvenile court. They offer the program in exchange for community service time.

The program offers the option of taking Alamance Community College career exploration classes like cosmetology, mechanical, nursing, electrical, HVAC, culinary arts, plumbing and auto repair in exchange for doing traditional community service hours.  

“When you think about the industry that is moving to our area. Let’s use the Toyota battery for example. One of the greatest needs they have for people with mechatronics skills, and so this would be a way to get those young people on a really good path to success,” Gatwood said.

At the end of the program, the student will get a certification in that course, and the juvenile petition goes away as long as they continue to follow the guidelines of the program.