The C.H.O.I.C.E.S. Youth Outreach Program is a progressive, three phase program, directly impacting thousands of children each year. Below is a summary of the phases of C.H.O.I.C.E.S. Please visit our website.
|In cooperation with law enforcement, educators, and corporate and community leaders, C.H.O.I.C.E.S. delivers a powerful message of hope and empowerment, stressing the impact of the daily decisions young people make and the connection between those choices and consequences they experience.||C.H.O.I.C.E.S. promotes self respect and respect for others, positive attitudes and work ethic, constructive habits and behaviors, and stresses the importance of education. Students are empowered to develop their inner strength, to recognize and overcome negative peer pressure as well as other obstacles they face in their day-to-day journey from childhood to adulthood.|
|Phase I: The Unguarded Moment||Phase II: Been There, Done That||Phase III: Community Law Enforcement Incentive Awards|
The “Unguarded Moment” is a presentation by correctional officers that engages students in straight talk about life issues. It is designed to educate students regarding life consequences of their day-to-day decision making.
The stellar student’s behavior and academic successes are reinforced, while the wavering or at-risk student is drawn to the path of positive and healthy choices. Those students already making poor choices will recognize and understand that there are increasingly negative consequences to poor choices, and that he or she will be held accountable.
Students are encouraged to become self-controlled, self-motivated individuals during this clearly and dramatically expressed presentation.
(Serves approximately 50,000 youth annually)
“Been There, Done That” is the second in the C.H.O.I.C.E.S. presentation series. It allows interaction between students and present or former prison inmates who discuss the negative choices in their lives that led them to where they are today. Supervised by law enforcement professionals, the inmates’ emotional accounts focus on hard lessons learned from failed relationships, dependence on others, substance abuse, and overall disrespect for parents and teachers. This unscripted presentation establishes an emotional link between audiences and inmates in a positive, inspirational manner with first-hand accounts of poor choices.
Both students and inmate presenters benefit from this truthful feedback, with everyone afforded an opportunity to positively contribute to the impact of the program. Each C.H.O.I.C.E.S. program phase is customized to be appropriate for its specific audience.
(Serves approximately 25,000 youth annually)
The C.H.O.I.C.E.S. Youth Outreach Community Law Enforcement Incentive Awards Program recognizes students who have been identified by their school as those who make good choices, and embody the C.H.O.I.C.E.S. theme of self-motivation to improve their behaviors, academic performance, and overall citizenship. These students have already experienced Phase I and II of the C.H.O.I.C.E.S. Program.
By enlisting corporate and community support, this program enables the selected students to receive awards and participate in the academic and recreational components of the program that include free school supplies, a supervised shopping spree for school clothes, a refurbished computer, a college student tutor, and various social events. Also included is an overnight lock-in with food and recreation, culminating in an early morning, heart-sharing, roundtable discussion.
(Serves approximately 150 youth annually)
Carl Kenneth Cannon
Born and raised in Peoria, Illinois. Carl Cannon entered the United States Army in the late 70’s and retired after twenty years. He came home to Peoria and is currently employed as the Supervisor for Youth Outreach Programming with the Peoria Park District at the Riverplex Recreation and Wellness Center.
He and his wife Melinda were married in 1984 in Ozark, Alabama. They have two daughters and one grandson.
While attending a Black History Celebration, he observed that the youth were fascinated positively by the prison system. Carl decided it was time to destroy that myth. He organized a program based on the Scared Straight concept where he, ex-inmates, and fellow officers informed youth about the truth of prison and prison life. This program motivates youth to stay in school, choose their role models well, exercise their brain muscles, and be prepared for the “unguarded moment”.
Carl is motivated to make a difference and to do what he can to prevent youth from wearing prison jewelry. He has taken his message to well over 250,000 youth in Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Alabama, Washington D.C. and Kansas speaking to high schools, middle schools, elementary schools, alternative schools, parenting classes, after school programs, churches, prison populations and anyone who will listen and learn.
The demand for his presentations continues to grow. Carl’s commitment and passion is youth and their welfare. He wants them to understand the decisions that lead a person to becoming an inmate and help them make the right decision when faced with the “unguarded moment.” His program benefits the youth of today and helps to make them productive adults tomorrow.
Carl is a former member of the Children’s Hospital Advisory Board, Pediatric Resource Center Board, and Catholic Charities Board of Directors. Currently, he serves as a Commissioner with the Peoria Housing Authority, is a member of the MeTEC Board of Directors, and is a member of the advisory committee to select the next Superintendent for Peoria Public Schools.
Mr. Cannon was recently selected as the 2003 Employer of the Year by the Central Illinois Council for Exceptional Children and is a recipient of the 2003 National Parks and Recreation Association Humanitarian Service Award, the 2003 Illinois Attorney General Peace Keeper Award, the 2003 Peoria County Association of Police Chiefs Citizen of the Year, 2003 National Everyday Heroes Award from Court TV and Insight Communications, 2004 Sigma Image Award, 2004 National Caring Award and induction into the National Caring Hall of Fame which is located in Washington D.C., a 2005 inductee into the Central Illinois African American Hall of Fame, a 2007 recipient of the Central Illinois Interfaith Alliance Faith and Freedom Award, and a 2007 recipient of the American Red Cross Local Heroes Award, 2008 Inductee Rotary Foundation of Rotary International PAUL HARRIS FELLOW Award for Community Service.