By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – With the Labor Day holiday this week, there are many articles describing the world of work. One is about a promising program for juvenile offenders, referred to as “weed sellers become weed whackers,” in Washington, D.C. Question: will young offenders given skills and opportunities for paid work return to the streets?

Young offenders work in a landscaping program mowing lawns for seniors, where in 2009, 42% of those receiving services outside a detention center were convicted within a year. Now it’s decreased to 29%.

Participants experience therapy, treatment and work training and know that they must prove work means respecting your boss, being punctual, and working well with peers to get a juvenile record sealed.

Covering 41 lawns of senior citizens, they have learned to respect older adults who look forward to seeing “the kids.” Ramon, featured in The Washington Post article, has improved his grades in algebra and in English from F’s to B’s and passes drug tests three times a week. He is a good example of the program’s success.

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