NASHVILLE, Tenn.(WKRN) – There is a gang in North Nashville that most parents with troubled young boys may want their son to join.
Leaders in North Nashville hope to change lives and fight back against teen crime with a special program. It’s called Gentlemen and Not Gangsters (G.A.N.G).
It was a graduation with extra special meaning– a graduation, that’s helping young men ages 12 to 17, get their lives back on track.
“Gang activity leads to drug activity, drug activity, robbery, theft, you name it,” said G.A.N.G. program founder Bishop Marcus Campbell. “It all leads to a bad road of destruction, and what we try to show these young men is that there is more out there to life than living that lifestyle of criminal activity.”
But this is a different type of gang.
“Gang activity either led to prison time or either death,” Campbell told News 2.
Each of these teenagers was recommended by the juvenile justice system.
All were, at one point, arrested for committing various crimes.
“Gun charges, marijuana charges, theft of property and robbery,” Campbell said.This is part of a three tier program for the teenagers to get off probation and back to a normal life.
“This program is just about changing the mindset of our youth just to show them that there is a whole new other world out there, and to deal with them on how to make better decisions and better choices for their life,” Campbell said.
With the help of the G.A.N.G. program Journeymen, who serve as mentors, these teens now have a new outlook on life.
Brian Douglas wants to go to college and become an Electrical Engineer.
His brother also graduated from the program.
“It taught me some characteristics, who I am as a person and other type of things to help me as a man to develop and grow,” Douglas said.
Davidson County Juvenile Court Judge Shelia Calloway told the graduates, she wants to see them become the next doctor or lawyer and not back in her courtroom for committing a crime.
“What they are used to is being on the street and being creative in the street, what this program helps them to do is be creative in the right way and use their potential in a positive manner,” Calloway said.
So far the G.A.N.G. program has graduated nearly 70 young men over the past five years with a pretty good success rate.
Most are still in high school and on track to graduate, ten have gone on to college and one joined the military.
G.A.N.G. started taking referrals from the juvenile justice court two years ago. The program lasts 12 weeks.
If the participant doesn’t complete it, they have to start all over, which extends the length of their probation.