Friday, August 14, 2020

Street Law Develops New Virtual Legal Life Skills Programming

In response to the obstacles to in-person learning presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Street Law conducted a virtual Legal Life Skills lesson module, designed to advance justice for communities and individuals who are most vulnerable to injustice. The lessons were taught in partnership with Home Depot and Wellspring Living.

Wellspring Living is an Atlanta, Georgia-based non-profit organization that supports survivors of domestic sex trafficking and those at risk for sex trafficking.

While Street Law-trained volunteers from Home Depot have partnered with Wellspring Living for the past two years to teach Legal Life Skills lessons, being unable to meet in person required developing new ways of continuing the program.

The virtual module was comprised of four, one-hour lessons taught over the course of a month. It covered four different topic areas: Rights and Responsibilities During an Arrest, Intro to Criminal Law: Should It Be a Crime?, Triggers: Skills for Managing Anger, and What Does a Good Citizen Know, Believe, and Do?

The course was co-taught by Street Law’s Senior Director of Community Initiatives Yolanda Johnson and Home Depot’s Yolundra Jackson-Bush, Senior Legal Specialist-Merchandising, Regulatory, Marketing & Intellectual Property.

One of Wellspring Living’s participants (whose anonymity is being preserved in this article) praised the virtual format, saying she believed it functioned even better than an in-person classroom setting.

“I think in virtual learning everybody was more eager to be a part of it,” she said. “Virtually, everyone had to participate, because some people were on the telephone, and some people were on the computer. It was more engaging.”

The course, the Wellspring Living participant reported, was broken down in a way where it was easy for anyone to understand. She said that she felt empowered with a newfound respect for the nuances of the law, like the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony.

“On the streets people really do make up their own laws,” she said. “So many of the things that you’d think would be a misdemeanor were actually felonies, but now I know the difference. I’m not as scared of the police now as I know the basics.”

Before taking Street Law, the participant said she’d been considering a career in the justice system, but wasn’t sure.

However, the Legal Life Skills Program renewed her interest in this career path and solidified her decision.

“Once I took Street Law, I became 100% sure in my decision to work in the justice system,” she said. “After taking this class I really want to be a paralegal or a court clerk.”

Image: Desktop computer with Street Law Logo