Nashville, Tenn. – Knowing the importance of having a father figure in a child’s life and reading about the need for positive male role models is what led Calvin Price to Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. in Davidson County, Tennessee.
“My father was in prison most of my childhood and wasn’t present in my life for a big portion of it due to challenges of his own,” Price said. “I loved my father like I know all children do. That place in a child’s heart for their father is always there, whether their father is in their life or not. What pushed me into [becoming a YAP Advocate] is the desire to be a positive role model to the youth in the same way I desired a role model as a youth.”
Since the inception of YAP’s Davidson County program in 2021, Price has been an Advocate for the national nonprofit that has been around for 46 years and partners with youth justice, child welfare, behavioral health, intellectual disabilities, and other systems to provide community-based services. YAP’s evidence-based model involves hiring primarily neighborhood-based Advocates and other staff who work with program youth and their families. YAP Advocates provide individualized “wraparound” services that include helping youth identify their strengths and connecting them and their families with tools to help them meet their goals.
“When I saw the posting online, and I guess one of the things that really brought me to interview and to apply at YAP is that they encouraged men to apply,” Price said. “The position had to do with the youth and providing positive role models. I thought that would be a good fit for me because I have a passion for that.”
A partnership with Davidson County Juvenile Court, YAP’s local programming—Wrapping Around Families for Success—serves up to 40 youth ages 12-18 and is funded by a Tennessee Victims of Crime Act grant (this project is funded under an agreement with the State of Tennessee).
“YAP exemplifies best practices in youth programming by connecting our youth with trained, caring advocates who truly understand their challenges and won’t give up on them, no matter what,” Davidson County Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway said.
Through training and support, YAP’s Advocates are provided with the support tools needed to engage, support and mentor youth participants. Price said he connects to youth by taking an interest in what they are intrigued by.
“I make the investment in their interest,” Price said. “That is what motivates most of the engagement. They always want to do the things and talk about things that they like, so that helps conversation wise and gets them to open up.”
Price said there have been events that he and participants have attended together, which have been beneficial. So far being an Advocate has been rewarding for Price. To date, he’s been an Advocate to seven youth participants, three who have completed the program.
“I believe that a lot of people that have the same passion that I do as far as helping in this way but they may not have the same opportunities or may not know how to do so,” Price said. “With programs like this and other ones, more opportunities are becoming available. With that it can only make a more powerful impact on the community and on society as a whole.”
Price added, “I am thankful to people who have that heart to work with youth and I am hoping that more people decide to step out and become a part of it.”
To listen to Paradigm Shift Education’s Trauma Informed Educators Network Podcast featuring an interview with Price, click here. If you’re interested in becoming a YAP Advocate, visit www.YAPInc.org. Follow the organization on Twitter @YAPInc.