Youth Leadership Programs Launched

Djuan Hankins is passionate about helping youth athletes. He’s been coaching girls’ and boys’ basketball for 19 years and been the head JV girls coach at William Fleming for the last six. This experience made him a natural choice to spearhead TAP’s Coaching Boys Into Men (CBIM) and girl-focused Athletes as Leaders (AAL) programs as our youth services specialist. Both programs help coaches and other community members learn to empower youth to stand up for respect, integrity, and non-violence.

In 2020, two TAP staff members and a representative from Roanoke City Police Department flew out to California to receive training and certification in these evidence-based programs. Progress was slowed due to the pandemic and customizing content and training for local needs, but the local roll-out began in earnest this year. Our community is now the only one in Virginia offering these programs.

Train the Trainer

This “train the trainer” initiative focuses on reaching youth by training community advocates. Anyone who works with youth—coaches, probation officers, police, social workers, counselors, and more—is a good candidate for this training. Djuan, along with our youth services manager Lateefah Trent, has condensed the curriculum into a single 3-hour training session.  

Once trained, advocates are ready to implement the program with the youth they work with. The curriculum is designed for 12 weeks, but flexible. Program materials are scripted, making them easy to put into action. They focus on behaviors, discipline, and how youth carry themselves outside a team setting. Coaches and other youth advocates present weekly material in 15-minute chunks, then discuss the topic with players. “As coaches we already have those conversations, but this helps you go a little more in depth and know what topics to bring up,” says Djuan.  

The Main Goal: Reduce Youth Violence

The initiative’s overall goal is to reduce violence. Many kids witness violence in their homes and communities. CBIM and AAL help students recognize disrespectful or dangerous behavior and intervene safely. It also teaches leadership skills, respect for others, and gender and racial equality. These are talks most participants aren’t having at home. 

“The program is pretty much set up to be catered for sports teams,” says Djuan. “They’re the pillars and leaders in the school. If we can reach the athletes and reach their mindsets, they can carry it out through the school. But we have opened it up to all young men and women. Studies have shown that students who have participated in the program are most likely to intervene in abusive behaviors. Kids think that abusive behavior is normal behavior because they see it so much.”

Getting Results

Seventeen youth advocates have already completed local certification training. William Fleming and Patrick Henry High School cheerleaders, Patrick Henry wrestlers, and students from Fishwick Middle School have participated. Athletes complete pre- and post-season assessments that measure mindset, behavioral, and communication changes. The program is already proving to effect positive change in the kids and families it touches. 

This year’s goal is to certify 20 advocates. Training is free, and so is the program. Djuan is looking for coaches, police officers, and others who work as youth advocates in the community. Plans are for training to be offered every quarter.

Learn More

For more information on this FREE certification, please contact or