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Strengthening Maryland’s Youth: Life Coaches Combat Gun Violence with Hope and Guidance

Inspiring Change Through Personal Connections

In a poignant moment shared over Zoom, Clarence Young Jr. and a young man he mentors reflected on a music video that depicted a stark reality many face. The video showed numerous individuals, many armed, which led the young man to observe that most appeared in the video were either incarcerated or deceased. This realization prompted him to question his life choices, encouraging him to seek a different path—a transformative moment facilitated by Young’s mentorship.

The Thrive Academy: A Beacon of Support and Rehabilitation

Thrive Academy in Maryland is more than just a program; it’s a lifeline for youth at high risk of gun violence involvement or victimization. Life coaches like Young engage with nearly 60 young people, helping them set ambitious personal goals ranging from academic achievement to employment and even simple pleasures like sports or hobbies. These coaches are not just mentors; they are pivotal figures aiming to redirect lives towards stability and success, offering weekly insights and consistent support to foster long-term change.

Building Futures and Fostering Hope

The impact of Thrive Academy is evident not only in its growing reach—now serving potential 200 young individuals—but in its profound personal successes. Stories of young individuals who chose to connect with their coaches in times of crisis instead of retaliating or making harmful decisions underscore the program’s effectiveness. These life coaches, often seen as credible messengers due to their own life experiences, provide a crucial support system that these young individuals might otherwise lack, offering guidance akin to what one might wish for their own child.