• Gang alternative program empowers with life skills and leadership


    The largest gang prevention program in Mecklenburg County, Gang Alternative Principals (GAP), will begin its spring session on Saturday, Feb. 17. 


    The program targets at-risk youth to try to prevent and intervene in gang involvement by providing wrap-around life skills and services to teens in grades 7-12.


    GAP uses an evidence-based curriculum to provide instruction on gang and violence prevention, life skills, leadership development, anger management and substance abuse.


    Students are referred by school counselors, principals, juvenile justice officials, judges, parents and churches. Most are African-American and Latino and are referred by the Mecklenburg County Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).


    Many attend GAP as an alternative to detention, and others are referred by concerned parents, guardians and other community stakeholders.


    Students attend an initial information session with a parent or guardian. During school months, they meet for half a day on Saturdays for 12 weeks from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. On two Saturdays, they also attend a field trip or community service activity. 


    Each session concludes with a meal, basketball, touch football, or soccer games and a wrap session to process the day’s discussion. On completion of the GAP Program, each graduate can earn a gift card potentially worth $180.  The final amount of the gift card is dependent upon weekly attendance, behavior and engagement.


    "We think we have the best staff in town," George Wilkerson, GAP program manager, said.  "Our sessions are led by all-male staff with backgrounds ranging from counselors to police to education to former gang members."


    In Mecklenburg County, there are approximately 1,862 documented or suspected members or affiliates comprising approximately 51 gangs and 95 cliques. Of that number, 1,755 are male and 107 are female.


    The spring 2018 GAP Program will be held Feb. 17-May 12, Saturdays, 9 a.m. -1 p.m. Transportation will be provided weekly to and from the program for those participants in need.


    To make a referral, please visit www.fbcwest.org (click on “GAP," then Click “GAP Referral”).

    For more information, or to make a referral, you may also contact either of the following:

    GAP Program administrator Kimily McGuine: 704-372-3742, kmcguine@charlottecsa.org

    GAP Program recruiter Will Hawkins: 980-263-1155, whawkins@charlottecsa.org.


    If you have an inspiring story to share, please contact Kevin Campbell, WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV community affairs manager, at kevin.campbell@wsoctv.com.

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