CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — “Champaign was identified as one of the critical cities in the state in Illinois,” Brandy Marshall said.
Critical because of gun violence in the community. The crisis has brought the National Youth Advocate Program or NYAP and its initiative, R3, to Champaign.
R3 stands for restore, reinvest and renew. Director Brandy Marshall says it’s available to young people who need guidance to stay on the right path.
“We figured we would come to champaign to prevent before the youth get to that point,” Kristie Kirk said.
NYAP opened the doors to its new facility in September, but this meeting was the public’s first chance to get to meet the leaders and learn more about the program.
The people who are from here, the people who work here are the experts of their community and what’s going on and what they need help with,” Kirk said.
The organization focuses on working with 13 to 26 year old’s, trying to find what gaps need to be filled and what services are needed.
Kristie Kirk says their top priority?
“Gaining trust in the community,” Kirk said.
Jorge Elvir, who works for the city of Champaign says it takes a team to make an impact.
“The more we spread ourselves around and build our collaboration, the better it is, kind of like a spider web, right and if you build that communication, it travels in and out,” Elvir said.
Marshall says it’s crucial that everyone provides input from top leaders to the everyday person.
“We need to be in the meetings and we need to be at the table and we need to be having these conversations,” Marshall said.
Organizers have high hopes for what this program can do.
“We want to promote peace within the child as well as in the communities that they live in as well,” Kirk said.
“We’re here to help, we’re here to fill the void, we’re not here to takeover, but we do want to help and we do want to make a presence,’’ Marshall said.