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Curtis Artis and Shakeva Frazier of the Project Imagine program were named earlier this month as recipients of the “Spirit Award” by the National Gang Crime Research Center.
The award recognizes significant service directed at gang prevention, gang intervention, and gang counseling.
“I was happy to be recognized among my peers,” said Artis, assistant violence prevention manager for Project Imagine. “It was one of the best feelings that I had in a long time.”
Frazier, who serves as an outreach worker, added, “I am so happy that others see the impact on young people through the work that we are doing. It really is a win for them (young people) more than it is for us. We cannot do it (this work) if they are not allowing us to work with them.”
Artis and Frazier received their award at the National Gang Crime Research Center’s conference, held on July 31-Aug. 2, in Chicago. The center conducts an annual gang specialist training conference.
Robert, David, violence prevention manager for Project Imagine, said the Project Imagine staff attend the conference to gain certification in various fields.
“We chose this conference because it is the best, and we can get the staff trained by professionals and experts in the field,” David said.
Also at this year’s conference, David, Artis, and members of the Danville Police Department led sessions on the efforts locally to address gang violence. The session by Artis was on Danville’s credible messenger program. Credible messengers are mentors with life experiences that can relate to young people. Artis is the author of a book soon to be released that details the basic tools for a credible messenger. The title is “Leading By Example, Credible Messenger Basics.”
David led a session on Danville’s Project Imagine model, and he was joined by Police Chief Scott Booth in another session titled “Bigger Than Black and Blue,” which was based on a book they co-authored.
Booth and Assistant Police Chief David Whitley led a session on “The Danville Model: A Comprehensive Approach to Addressing Gang Violence Through Focused Policing and Community Engagement” during the conference.
Booth was named by the center as a recipient of the Frederic Milton Thrasher Award, which recognized his accomplishments in reducing gang-related crime in the community.
David won the award in 2020.
Project Imagine is a community violence intervention collaborative to steer youths away from gang activity. It is based on the evidence-based theory of Cognitive Behavior Therapy in that if the youth can implement new information and standards, then he or she can change their behavior. The idea is to create a positive "image" in the mind of a youth so that they he or she can "imagine" a life without gangs or crime.