Growing up is hard. No matter how you look at it, paving the way and moving towards adulthood is difficult. It comes with a wave of emotions, challenges, and new experiences. Sometimes we lose our way, and that is okay. Sometimes all we need is encouragement and a positive push in a better direction to help us break the cycles that encompass a person in their lives. And that is exactly what the Positive Path Program of Winston-Salem is doing in our community.
The Positive Path Program (P3) is a five-month long career development program that is centered on helping at-risk youth and young adult Winston-Salem residents, ages 16 to 24 years old. Its tagline declares “A New Direction for Youth.” These residents come from one or more of the following backgrounds: justice-involved youth or adults, low income, incarcerated guardian or caregiver, current or former foster youth, or from an agency referral. While in the program, the young adults, referred to as “apprentices,” will redirect their lives and learn prosocial behaviors through STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineerings, Arts, and Mathematics) activities, life skills, and hands-on training experiences. Through STEAM, apprentices are introduced to careers in the medical, art, engineering, and information and technology fields. Visits and partnerships with local colleges and universities are also included in the program, as well as resources being available from local businesses, such as Financial Pathways and Goodwill. Part of the training includes the chance for participants to obtain their GEDs.
The Positive Path Program also offers the National Center for Construction Education and Research instruction, personal and professional development, career shadowing, networking, and field trips. Lastly, participants can receive apprenticeships with wages equal to the city’s minimum for 20 hours of work per week. In addition to the experiences, the program features a holistic approach, by giving real-life examples and instruction on the preferred prosocial behaviors. Advisors are also assigned to the apprentices for more guidance and mentorship. Once apprentices complete the program, they will still have support up to six months after completion. The entire Positive Path Program is designed to make a difference in helping youth and young adults get a positive start in life and break the cycles holding them back.
This job-readiness youth opportunity is new to the city, having been incorporated this past summer. It is a pilot program that expands Winston-Salem’s previous YouthBuild Winston-Salem program. YouthBuild Winston-Salem was very similar to the Positive Path Program; as such, it was a six-month program that focused on high school dropouts and helped them redirect their lives through education, job training, and leadership. Some differences between the two programs include the age difference (the Positive Path Program’s age group is 16 to 24, while YouthBuild was 18 to 24) and the addition of STEAM opportunities to P3.
In interviews from this past summer during the program’s release, project supervisor for the Positive Path Program, Faith Bartlett, explained how the program is designed to help this struggling population and cut down on crime for this age group. She added that the program could be an alternative to the traditional high school route if that isn’t working for a student.
Application dates have not yet been set for the next group of apprentices. More information can be found on the program’s website at: https://www.cityofws.org/3103/Positive-Path.
The Positive Path Program is already changing the lives of young adults in our community. The program is on a mission to lower crime rates for ages 16 to 24, and to offer those involved hope and a chance for a better life through training and mentorship. Through the current plans in place, the Positive Path Program is already fulfilling that mission.