DANVILLE, Va. (WFXR) — An anti-gang program in Danville was recently awarded for innovation and excellence in local governance by the Virginia Municipal League.
Project Imagine was awarded in the League’s “Working with Youth” category.
“Project Imagine is designed to give gang-affiliated youth a future off the streets by providing them with a paid work experience and mentoring while on the job,” the city said in a statement. “The nine-week training and employment program was implemented through a partnership with the Virginia Workforce Center and the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice.”
Two classes of youth have completed the program since it launched in 2018. The first class graduated in December 2018 and the other in June of this year.
Students were able to work and gain experience in one of several Danville city departments.
It’s a recognition the program director Robert David says is validating.
“This is confirmation that the city can work together. It’s a confirmation that when you begin to bring community resources together then we can do some things that maybe not have been thought about before. But hence the title of the award innovation, that we can bring some things together to create something new that can be effective,” said David.
Judges for the Virginia Municipal League said the program “acknowledges that young people mired in gang activity or being lured to join gangs often can’t imagine a different way to live their lives.
“Not only do the participants learn valuable skills, they learn the satisfaction of getting paid to do a job that benefits the community,” the judges continued. “Most importantly, they come to appreciate that the pride that comes with these things can be stronger than any gang membership. A community can help its young people be their best by involving them in meaningful work for the community!”
More than 50 entries were judged by the Virginia Municipal League.