EL CENTRO – Local officers and dignitaries gathered Thursday at the Rite Track Center to celebrate opening the new Gloria M. Brunswick activities and treatment room in El Centro. The new treatment room is named for Brunswick in dedication to the former juvenile probation manager for her work and passion for the community and youth.
With the sole purpose to reduce recidivism and criminalistic behavior in youth of Imperial Valley, Rite Track Youth Services is an organization that opened its doors in 2009 to help at-risk or juvenile parents and adolescents from ages 14 to 25.
Offering specific programs to guide and mentor the youth, the center teaches skills and builds self-confidence so kids have a better chance of completing an education. Rite Track also provides several services like high intense one-on-one groups, Mentoring and Tracking, and Proud Parenting as students participate at the Evening Learning Center.
According to Marysol Medina, program manager at Rite Track, the Evening Learning Center offers after school activities where students are picked up from school and receive an hour of cognitive therapy, while also participating in physical therapy, such as sports. They also receive family therapy, peer to peer support, supportive service linkage, and college, vocational and employment counseling.
“This day is not only to show the new room, but to open a facility to the community and bring awareness of what’s happening to our youth,” said Medina. “We hope to increase our connection with the community and make sure our youth have a good life and pursue a career or a secondary education.”
Since the program is directly funded through the Imperial County Probation Department, correctional officers or judges refer students from all over the County to the program. After students successfully complete the program, some of them can transition back into high schools, or community and academy schools, and graduate, according to Medina.
Gloria M. Brunswick, one of the founders of the program, mentioned that she, along with William Large, director of non-residential services for Rite Track, and Juvenile and Family Law Presiding Judge Juan Ulloa, helped introduce the program to the Valley and get it approved by the Board of Supervisors. Brunswick also recalled having 86 participants at the beginning of the program, while now it averages around 35 students since it has helped so many juveniles bypass problems with the law.
“My drive for the 31 years of being a division manager for probation was to do something for our kids, and the team decided this program would fill those slots,” said Brunswick. “It’s important to support our kids, because this type of program fills the needs of that extra help like tutoring or mentoring.”
As the new remodeled place was filled with students, parents, officers, and workers as they were welcomed with food and beverages. Also, Behavioral Health, Department of Social Services, IVROP, and ICOE workers were present to support affiliation in the program.
The Gloria M. Brunswick activities and treatment room consists of a ping pong table, football table, television with video games, basketball table backboard, comfortable furniture, a chalk wall and a display wall for drawings, where students can express themselves and have a place to relax, have fun and grow to the best of their abilities.
An art mural of a crop field representing the Valley and a tree of hand imprints with an inspirational quote stretched throughout one wall of the room. On the opposite side of the room, photos of participants from the program who have graduated high school, college or entered the military are displayed in a wall called “Gloria’s Rite Track All-Stars” to motivate and remind the students to work for their future.
Judge Ulloa acknowledged the great work and persistence Brunswick and the Rite Track team has done over the years with the center.
“You have made this program a positive experience for the students and a place where they can grow and have a better life,” Ulloa said.