Each year between May 4 and June 4, National Returning Youth Month brings awareness to young adults transitioning into society after incarceration. This monthly observance encourages all Americans to remove the stigma associated with those coming out of incarceration. Most importantly, National Returning Youth Month opens well-deserved dialog to support post-incarcerated youth.
Many believe young adults in our society have unlimited resources that will guide them towards successful adulthood. Unfortunately, nearly 11 percent of all teenagers and young adults in the U.S. are faced with lack of support and resources to become productive citizens. According to Measure of America, 4.1 million young adults between ages 16 and 24 are falling behind in the U.S. Sadly, these disconnected youth do not attend school or maintain employment. Oftentimes, many resort to making bad decisions in order survive. As a result, they are often incarcerated and labeled for the rest of their lives.
Returning to daily life after incarceration can be stressful and discouraging. But, by providing the right tools, post-incarcerated youth can become productive members of society. The key to success and most effective way to achieve that success is offering guidance, access to resources, and provide alternative solutions to avoid future incarceration.
HOW TO SUPPORT RETURNING YOUTH MONTH
There are many things you can do to welcome back incarcerated youth into society.
- Encourage businesses to participate in employment opportunities.
- Advocate at the local, state, and national level.
- Become a mentor.
- Provide free medical and psychological services.
- Donate to the Returning Youth Initiative.
- Purchase bus passes or provide transportation to and from job interviews.
- Be supportive and non-judgemental.
- Share your stories of success on social media using #ReturningYouthMonth.
HISTORY OF NATIONAL RETURNING YOUTH MONTH
Credit for establishing National Returning Youth Month belongs to Dr. Surajit Khanna, founder of the Returning Youth Initiative, which is a program designed to restore the hopes and dreams to returning youth. This monthly observance begins on Dr. Khanna’ birthday in honor of his dedication as an advocate for post-incarcerated young adults and lasts an entire month.
Dr. Khanna celebrates a birthday on May 4, which is the same day National Returning Youth Month begins. Incidentally, this is the same day we celebrate National Star Wars Day. The Returning Youth Initiative want today’s youth to be with their loved ones and not to be incarcerated. When saying “May the 4th be with you,” on National Star Wars Day, remember to also say “May the youth be with you” to kick off the first day of National Returning Youth Month.
Dr. Khanna is an attorney, a child safety advocate, and a servant of the underserved. He volunteers his time on post-incarcerated young adults’ issues. He considers himself the “voice of the voiceless” and provides building blocks to create a better future for post-incarcerated youth. In addition, he also supports mentoring opportunities with organizations and assists with providing appropriate supervision to reduce recidivism among participants. Best of all, he breaks barriers on the stigma placed on post-incarcerated youth face returning into society.
Returning Youth Initiative Goals:
- Welcome post-incarcerated young adults into society with an integrated approach, be part of their community, and not return to a life of crime.
- Provide young adults with a pathway to a productive life.
- Provide housing, food, life skills training, trade skills training, secure employment, and long-term education.
In 2022, the Registrar at National Day Calendar proclaimed National Returning Youth Month to be observed annually May 4 to June 4. Join National Day Calendar and the Returning Youth Initiative as we celebrate National Returning Youth Month.