Central, PA-area Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc participants jumped at the opportunity to help artist Aryanna Tischler install a mural designed by Symone Salib for the Care, Not Control campaign. YAP is a national nonprofit that provides community-based alternatives to youth incarceration and out-of-home placements. The mural, now a permanent fixture on one of the nonprofit’s Harrisburg, PA buildings, represents the campaign’s work to end incarceration in the state.
“The artist [Tischler] was great, good with kids and personable,” said YAP Program Director Ed Harmon, who was among the nonprofit’s staff members on hand for the project.
According to Care Not Control, 1,500 youth are incarcerated in detention centers and youth prisons across the state, the vast majority of whom are kids of color. As the Pennsylvania Juvenile Justice Task Force votes on its youth justice recommendations to Governor Wolf, the poster campaign, which launched in Philadelphia and will continue in Pittsburgh, calls on the task force to end youth incarceration and invest in community-based supports.
Participating in the project was personal for the YAP program youth, who were aware of what the mural aims to achieve. “If you want to better the world around you, you start with your community,” Devon said. Expressing similar sentiments, Xavier saw his contribution as a chance “to build a better, positive environment for youth… It was a great experience.”
YAP’s evidence-based program model provides community-based Advocates who help youth identify their strengths and connect them with accessible tools to nurture their gifts and talents. At the same time, YAP Advocates work with parents/guardians to provide resources that help them reinforce their family’s foundation. YAP’s goal is to empower program participants to achieve their educational, emotional, and economic goals while giving back to others.
Taking part in the mural project gave Adam a chance to offer advice to other youth who might be veering onto a negative path. “Stay clean, stay drug and crime free,” he said.
Care, Not Control is a coalition of young people and youth advocates working to end youth incarceration. Together, they have created a vision for, and action steps towards, ending youth incarceration in Pennsylvania once and for all. Read more about their platform at www.carenotcontrol.com.
Learn more about YAP at www.YAPInc.org. Follow YAP on Twitter @YAPInc.