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Eight teenagers were honored recently for completing life skills training and goal-setting exercises through the City of Danville’s Project Imagine collaborative, which works to steer youths away from gang activity and community violence.
Graduating were Makiya Hampton, Jhysaun Harper, Ayden Johnson, Faith Logan, Brandee Miller, Micah Rutherford, Karmella Smith, and Aaron Taborn.
The program steers youths away from gang activity and community violence by developing and maintaining relationships with mentors, and by focusing on goals such as having no contact with law enforcement, improving their grades, completing school, and becoming employed.
Since the program’s inception, 23 classes, totaling 132 teens, have graduated.
As part of the program, the youths receive strength-based assessments using the Casey Life Skills and Clifton Strengths tools. These tools are used to place youths on a path toward developing healthy, productive lives.
Also, a Project Imagine outreach worker is assigned to mentor each youth for a minimum of one year.
Project Imagine is based on the evidence-based theory of Cognitive Behavior Therapy in that if the youth can implement new information and standards, then he or she can change their behavior. The idea is that the program creates a positive "image" in the mind of a youth so that they he or she can "imagine" a life without gangs or crime.
The teens in Project Imagine are chosen from referrals from the police department, courts, schools, and parents.