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NYC juvenile counselor offers troubled youths extra support.

Like all juvenile corrections professionals, Eduardo Marcial is accustomed to working with troubled youths. However, Marcial, a senior juvenile counselor at New York City's sole secure detention facility for juveniles, specializes in helping youths who have particular difficulty adjusting to the group setting and need special attention.

Working with youths assigned to Spofford Juvenile Facility's special support dormitory takes "a lot of patience and the ability and effort to develop a real rapport with them," Marcial says. "They need structure and consistency, but they also need love and support."

Marcial has worked at Spofford since 1982. He has worked in the special support dorm since 1986.

"I came to work here because I felt I would have an opportunity to make a difference in children's lives," he explains. "I believe all children should be given a chance, regardless of background circumstances or family situation."

Marcial consistently puts in overtime to better serve the dorm's residents. He took a lifeguarding course so the youths would be able to use the center's pool when the regular lifeguard is not on duty. He did this, he says, because he found that swimming calms the youths.

After receiving in-service training in art therapy in 1986, Marcial put his newly learned skills to work with the youths. One of Spofford's long-time traditions is a holiday dorm decorating contest, and Marcial used his new skills to work with the youths to decorate their dorm. The dorm won first prize in the contest that year, and has won every year since.

Marcial also has worked on many special projects at Spofford. He coordinates activities for Puerto Rican History Month each November. He collaborated with other staff and the youths in his dorm on the agency's first Black History video. And in 1991, he founded Spofford's annual Labor Day Olympics for children.

"Excellence is the norm for Ed," says Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Rose W. Washington. "He is a professional of high integrity with a sense of mission and vision, and he sets a superb example for us all."

Born and raised in Manhattan, Marcial is the second child and only son of parents who came to the city from Puerto Rico. Marcial recalls that he drew much support and encouragement from his mother, a woman he describes as strong, gentle and loving. "My mother always told me, 'As long as you keep trying, you can make it,'" Marcial says.

Marcial's long-term goal is to be a psychologist. He feels that by learning more about psychology he can do his job better. He is completing his bachelor's degree at the College of New Rochelle and hopes to graduate in the next several years.

Dan Weiller is director of public affairs for the New York City Department of Juvenile Justice.
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Title Annotation:Best in the Business; Eduardo Marcial of New York City's Spofford juvenile Facility
Author:Weiller, Dan
Publication:Corrections Today
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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