Holiday Happenings for Youth in Juvenile Rehabilitation

December 20, 2021
Collage of holiday images taken at JR facilities.

DCYF's incredible Juvenile Rehabilitation (JR) staff are going above and beyond to infuse cheer and create a warm and festive environment for our young people this holiday season. It’s easy to feel stressed, frustrated, and even a little blue during the darker winter months, and that’s especially true around the holidays for the young people in DCYF’s residential facilities.

JR celebrates an array of winter holidays with youth, including Kwanza, Hanukkah, and Christmas. All activities, decorations, and meals aim to be mindful and inclusive of youth and staff's many unique cultures and traditions. “Our goal over time is to incorporate even more significant dates in the future,” said Oakridge Community Facility Administrator Yolanda Lee.

To kick off the festivities, several community facilities are taking residents out on the adventure of selecting and cutting live trees, followed by hot cocoa and decorating as a group. Others are leading excursions out into the world for holiday parades and twinkle light installations for maximum merriment. Youth are creating holiday cards to send to their loved ones, crafting ornaments, and decorating stockings. And across the state, friendly contests are adding a little spice to the festivities! Over at Sunrise and Oakridge, youth are competing in cookie baking contests, while residents at Green Hill School (GHS) and Naselle Youth Camp are holding a gingerbread house tournament. And youth at every facility are decking the halls of their living spaces with an eye to see who’s best. Even staff are joining in the fun with holiday sweater competitions.

This year, Sherwood Farms made a generous donation of wreaths and garlands to decorate GHS’s campus, and the Capital High School football team is hosting its second annual toy drive so GHS youth can send gifts to their children and young siblings. And in the spirit of giving back to the community, GHS and Sunrise facilities are hosting food drives for local food banks to ensure everyone has enough to eat during the winter months.

Speaking of eating, every facility is hosting holiday feasts, sometimes more than one in a day! Some meals are being prepared for youth communally by staff, while others invite the young people to prepare their favorite family side dish for everyone to enjoy.

Finally, what winter holiday would be complete without a special gift or two? Each facility does things a little differently. At Ridgeview, youth receive matching pajamas from staff – a longtime tradition. At Touchstone, residents decided to opt out of individual gifts in favor of something new they can share as a group. Together, they are creating a music studio and expanded recreation area for everyone to enjoy.

Thank you to all of our extraordinary employees and community members for making this holiday season merry and bright for DCYF’s young people.