FAULKNER COUNTY, Ark.- It’s right around the beginning of each year, those iconic Girl Scout Cookies order forms float around the office.
But around the year, not just certain times, there’s a program that’s helping transform teen girls.
The girls known for cookies are also known for correcting behavior.
The legendary boxes show girls with big smiles, showing their potential.
But in another box, is the opposite.
“I got on probation in 2016,” says Diamond McAlphin, 15.
At 13 years old, Diamond found herself in the Faulkner County Jail.
“I got on probation for fighting,” Diamond says. “I was disrespectful, and I had no future.”
So instead of keeping Diamond there, the judge ordered her across the street to Deliver Hope.
“There were three girls in there,” Diamond recalls. “We were quiet until the boys got in there, and they got into it over baby mommas and all that.”
The judge ultimately ordered Diamond to become a Girl Scout.
“I was mad, Girl Scouts, ugh,” says Diamond.
Needless to say, it wasn’t what Diamond wanted to do with her time.
“I just didn’t care about how anybody felt, and I liked to see people yell at me ’cause I thought it was so funny,” Diamond recalls.
It’s how she landed herself on the other side of the law, and learned to recite the Girl Scout Law.
“It’s not like the other Girl Scouts, the Girl Scouts in public, and I was like, ‘This is so embarrassing,’ and then I found out it’s nothing like that,” Diamond says.
There were no badges, no cookies.
“You get to sit there and meet people, and you help your community, and you talk about your day and your problems,” Diamond recalls.
“I think they are still girls, and they’re not the only girls going through this,” says Faye Shepherd, a justice specialist. “They’re supportive of each other.”
Faye Shepherd, the juvenile justice specialist in Arkansas, collaborated with Judge Troy Braswell to start the program Girl Scouts Rise, agreeing that these young girls don’t need to be locked up, but rather out in the community working on themselves.
“Some of the best times for kids are their adolescent years, but also some of the most confusing times,” Shepherd says. “So, if they can have a positive experience like in Rise, we’re on the road to rehabilitating them, which is what we want.”
After starting the Girl Scout program, Faulkner County saw a 86 percent reduction in anger and violence.
Shepherd says the girls graduate from the scouts saying, “Thank you, Miss Faye.”
It’s a mixture of the Girl Scouts program and the people that made the difference for Diamond.
“Oh, Laura!” Diamond exclaims. “Y’all sorry, she’s a lifesaver.”
It’s about those that really showed they care, advice and even an invitation to be a bridesmaid in a wedding.
“They will sit here and listen to all your problems and give you advice,” says Diamond. “It has changed a lot.”
To those teens that are where Diamond was three years ago, Diamond has some advice.
“Being on probation is not cute, nothing to brag about,” Diamond says.
It’s the Girl Scouts, and a little bit of those cookies, that helped Diamond get back on the right track.