Nashville program gives troubled young men second chance

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) –  There are several groups across Nashville committed to fighting crime by connecting with young people.

At the Oasis Center, the REAL program focuses on young men who have had an issue with the law. The program equips them with skills to apply for jobs, or college, while leading them away from crime.

Listening to their stories, you start to understand.

“It just made me feel more comfortable about who my character is and what goes on in my community,” says REAL program graduate,  Paullion Spencer.

They help us realize our mistakes do not define us, and we need to be more accountable,” adds another graduate, Elijah McGill.

These voices belong to the young men, committed to an idea to make a choice for a second chance

We need to make sure these kids know that we’re not going to give up on them,” Ron Johnson says.

Johnson is the director of the REAL program at the Oasis Center in Nashville. It provides an alternative to detention for these boys, and the tools to navigate young adulthood.

“We deal with helping them understand anger, anger management, what that looks like, and to help them understand what trauma looks like,” says Johnson.

Several of the teens were recently honored for successfully completing the program. The graduation signifies the accountability each one of them now carries.

“it just makes you want to be a better person and think about what you do before you make a mistake,” Spencer says.

“We try and be that intervention in whatever way that we can,” says Johnson. “We all need chances, we all need people to believe in us.”

The belief is placed in this group, and hundreds more who have been here before them.  The commitment to make an impact is as real as it gets, from this REAL program.

In eight years, around 1,200 people have graduated the program.