This weekend, Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc.’s new Alternatives to Violence (ATV) team will be among those at the Charlotte, Mecklenburg County QC Fest.
ATV, a Cure Violence Global model violence interruption program, will apply YAP’s 46-year-old principles of hiring neighborhood-based staff to provide unconditional support to give Charlotte’s Beatties Ford Road corridor residents alternatives to violence.
Now operating in 31 states and the District of Columbia, YAP is a high-impact social justice national nonprofit with evidence-based programs that serve as an alternative to youth incarceration and congregate placements. For the past six years, YAP has been applying its unique operating principles to the Cure Violence disruption model to introduce violence interruption programs like ATV to cities across the U.S.
Recently, the city and county introduced YAP ATV Site Supervisor Belton Platt. Platt and his team will work together to mediate disputes and connect their neighbors to individualized economic, educational, and emotional alternative-to-violence wraparound services and tools.
Like Platt, who spent 21 years in prison before turning his life around, the ATV team members, some of whom were formerly incarcerated, are committed to demonstrating that change is possible, serving as role models, and giving back to their community.
Belton L. Platt, Site Supervisor
Belton L. Platt is a motivational speaker, mentor, chaplain, author, restaurateur, and community activist, among many other things. He comes to Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. as the Site Supervisor of Charlotte’s Alternatives to Violence program, where he will merge the lessons of his past mistakes with his community advocacy he’s done in the last decade since being released from prison. Beginning in 1989, Platt spent more than 21 years incarcerated for the distribution of drugs. A Charlotte, N.C., native, he understands the importance of mentorship and the impact a positive influence can make in the lives of youth. The father of 11 children, Platt tragically lost three sons to gun violence. In 2010, Platt founded Rock Ministries Church International Charlotte with his wife Mashandia Platt and their children. He is an author, and his life is chronicled in the book “Money Rock: A Family’s Story of Cocaine, Race and Ambition in the New South.”
Donnell Gardner, Alternatives to Violence Team Member
Donnell Gardner grew up in West Charlotte and was raised by a single mother who always had love for her community. Gardner said he went to college on a football scholarship and then took a left turn that landed him in federal prison on conspiracy charges. While in prison, he helped men get their GEDs and connect with their families. He said his longtime connection to his neighbors and his ability to connect people with one another are gifts he brings to his new role. President of Team True Blue, an antiviolence organization, Garner said he felt like this is something he was already doing and felt that he could be an asset to Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc., and the Alternatives to Violence team. He looks forward to helping young people find alternatives to violence. “I’ve been doing this work all along, he said.” Now I get to be paid for it.”
Jamal Davis, Alternatives to Violence Team Member
Jamal Davis joined Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc.’s Alternatives to Violence team after learning about the program from Belton Platt, the program’s site supervisor. Davis has been out of prison for seven years after serving about a decade, divided between state and federal prison on conspiracy and gun charges. In the time that he has returned to his community, Davis has been committed to giving back to his community, even jumping out of his car to help people carry groceries across the street. Davis said Platt told him about YAP and what he could be doing as member of the Alternatives to Violence team and how he could help his neighbors.
BJ Murphy, Alternatives to Violence Team Member
Longtime radio/podcast host, BJ Murphy has been involved with the Charlotte Peacekeepers, Fruit of Islam, and other Beatties Ford Corridor community organizations. With his experience of more than 45 years in working in Charlotte radio, Murphy is committed to helping young men and families in his neighborhood. He thinks being with Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc.’s Alternatives to Violence team is a match made in heaven. He sees the program as a groundbreaking movement and looks forward to bringing other grassroots organizations into the movement to stop violence in the city.