Travis Raven ‘works out’ partnership with Solano County Juvenile Detention Facility 

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alexander Merchak
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

FAIRFIELD, Calif. – An Airman from Travis Air Force Base, California, flexes community bonds by pumping up relationships through the creation of a physical training (PT) program at Solano County Juvenile Detention Center (SCJDC).

For the past year, the PT program – much like the one Airmen use – has established a rapport between the base, correctional facility and local juveniles.

It started when U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Sebastian Borges, 60th Security Forces Squadron phoenix raven and PT program coordinator, reached out to the facility and was accepted to lead the program.

“I’ve been working out with these guys for a little less than a year,” Borges said. “After workouts, the kids have the confidence to tackle their daily tasks despite their circumstances.”

As a part of the SCDJC program, the majority of the PT participants are high school students, 16 - 19 years old, from the surrounding areas, primarily Stockton, Fairfield and Suisun City.

A native of Vallejo, California, Borges joined the Air Force at the age 19 with the goal of becoming part of the law enforcement profession. Being from the area and understanding the community, Borges feels it's easier to build relationships with the youth.

Another reason why he initiated the program was the desire to make a positive impact in the community that helped to support him. Borges said he has always had a desire to serve, whether that would be as an Airman or as a part of local law enforcement.

“This program is important because this core group represents troubled youth all over the Bay Area,” said Borges. “We have a lot of Airmen that live off base in the local community and it’s a great way to give back.”

After one of the sessions, a participant described feeling more focused and ambitious and even said they felt as if they could “run up the side of a mountain”.

Through the program, Borges met Julie Hilt, founder of Alternative Restorative Communities. According to ARC’s webpage, the organization collaborates with community partners to create programs that work to address racial and ethnic disparity in the juvenile justice system at SCJDC.

“People like Sebastian and others in the program create this rich melting pot,” said Hilt. “You would be surprised how many of these youth, who grew up in Fairfield, don’t even know the base is here.”

As an Airman and a part of that community, Borges, learned he could be a mentor to these adolescents.

“I believe a mentor is truly chosen by the mentee,” said Borges. “Mentoring kids helps you realize how fortunate you are, to have a stable career and family life. It is important to lead the youth so it’s possible for them to have the same.”

The goal of the program is to help redirect youth to reassimilate back into the community after they have finished their time in the facility. This PT program is the first of this kind here according to Kelvin Brooks, Solano County Senior Juvenile Correctional Counselor.

“This relationship gives them another avenue to improve,” said Brooks. “It gives these young men a sense of community when Airmen in uniform support them at this facility... that’s big for us.”

To keep that avenue open, Borges says he feels as though the program is an opportunity to understand more about how different people respond to situations and further develop his own leadership style.

“We need motivated Airmen and civilians to establish a consistent reliable source of mentorship that the youth would constantly have access to,” said Borges.

For the future of the program, Borges says he would like to see this program to continue to motivate and inspire youth for their future success.