Creating An Automotive Centered After School Program

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It all started in 2008 when Oxnard Police Department Senior Officers Charles Woodruff and Daniel Shrubb came across the idea of creating an automotive-centered after-school program to get teenagers out of the streets. With the assistance of local sponsors, such as Borla Performance Industries and the Oxnard High School District, DRAGG (Drag Racing Against Gangs & Graffiti) was founded in 2011 to provide students with an education, and work experience in the automotive industry. “We knew that if the kids that we dealt with, working in gangs, if the majority of them- a high percentage of them- would be shown something to do right, they would do it,” says Woodruff. “As supposed to wasting their time with their friends who are going to get them in trouble, steal cars, or rob people.” DRAGG and its founders have as a mission to provide an alternative to gangs and graffiti through a positive learning opportunity that teaches youth responsibility and respect for others in the environment of the automotive industry. “Our motto has been to steer them toward something they can do,” says Woodruff. “Get a career, make money and all that kind of stuff in the automotive industry.” The non-profit program is offered at nine schools in the Oxnard High School District with the chance for students to earn credits for participating in the after-school program twice a week. The after-school program is entirely funded by donations, grants, and sponsorships from aftermarket businesses and operated by volunteers and teachers that donate their time. Woodruff and Shrubb explain that it wasn’t easy to launch the program, and there some challenges they had to face in order to pursuit their goal. “[In 2008] it was a tough time everywhere, nobody w... ... middle of paper ... ...a safe environment for the kids and the necessary experience in the automotive industry. “We provide the safe environment for them to come and learn being the police. It’s a win win for everybody, and the parents appreciate it towards the end of the year,” says Shrubb. As law enforcement officers and automotive enthusiasts, Woodruff and Shrubb have been able to raise awareness about gangs, and the importance of getting these kids out of the streets, as well as creating that sense of respect and trust amongst the youth. “The kids sees us in uniforms and the barriers are broken down because they stop seeing the uniform they see the person now who they are dealing with,” says Shrubb. “And that’s really helpful because even when we go on fieldtrips on the weekends, or even during the week they know we are real people just like them, and they start developing trust.”

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