At age 16, Shamarion has begun to recognize and appreciate his strengths – that he’s smart, respectful, cares about his mother, and is a great big brother to his siblings. Fulton County, Ga. Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. Program Director Haasan Smith has been working with Shamarion, encouraging him, and connecting him with tools to nurture his strengths.
YAP is a national nonprofit in 35 states and Washington, D.C. that hires and trains culturally responsive Advocates, credible messengers, and behavioral health professionals to deliver community-based alternative-to-incarceration/placement, aftercare, diversion, and public safety services.
Shamarion said he landed in YAP after refusing to comply with his principal following a school fight and other incidents where he was making decisions that got him into trouble. He credits Smith for helping him navigate decisions and distractions.
“He helped me to mature and grow as a young man,” Shamarion said.
The Fulton County program is one of six YAP pilots launched in 2019 and 2020 that a Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University report found to be “extremely successful” in serving youth and families.
Smith invited Shamarion and his mother to share their story with members of the YAP Board of Directors during a recent meeting in Atlanta.
“Some people don’t have the right people to lead them and guide them to the right choices and he helped me with that,” Shamarion told the YAP Board members when sharing about his experience working with Smith. “Now, I feel like I’m better at making choices and thinking through some of the things I do. I’m not saying I’m perfect because I’m still growing, and I still making mistakes, but I’m better at how I carry myself.”
Shamarion aspires to be a successful real estate broker and music industry artist.
He’s a great kid who just needed to see and believe in his strengths,” Smith said. “I’m helping him figure that out and will be introducing him to people in the fields he’s interested in to provide some additional support and guidance.”
Learn more about YAP at YAPInc.org.