By Mark Ambrogi
The Noblesville Youth Assistance Program keeps progressing in its mission to strengthen youth and families through community involvement.
The five-year-old Noblesville program is free and voluntary for ages 3 to 17 facing life challenges.
The Westfield Youth Assistance Program began in 2009. The NYAP came after and is one of six programs serving students and their families in Hamilton County. The others are Carmel, Fishers, Hamilton Heights and Sheridan.
“We’re a not-for-profit agency, but we’re technically employed by Hamilton County under Superior Court I with Judge (Steve) Nation. We work really closely with Noblesville Schools and the guidance counselors,” said Ashlan Cavender, an early intervention advocate with NYAP. “What happens is guidance counselors identify any families or kiddos that are at risk or need some extra help or assistance. They refer them to our program. We set up a meeting with the family. We basically talk to them about what they need as help in and how we can support them. We connect them to services in the community that can assist them, whether that is any type of counseling or whether that is getting them involved in sports, whether they need mentoring, tutoring, summer camps, food and clothing assistance.”
Brandy Egan, the program’s other early intervention advocate, said the program also gets referrals from the prosecutor’s office.
“Every time a truancy letter is sent, we receive a copy of that. We try to get involved with the family first and see if there is a way we can support them to get the child back in school regularly, prior to them going to court or any formal charges being filed,” Egan said. “We also get all the copies of the incorrigibility packets that are turned into the prosecutor’s office to give us a chance to work with them first before the prosecutor’s office goes any further with it.”
Incorrigibility is a status offense for juveniles, occurring when a minor under age 18 refuses to accept the authority or discipline of adults.
“Most of our referrals come from Noblesville Schools, and the prosecutor’s office is second,” Cavender said. “It’s just to offer them any kind of support to prevent any other negative things from happening, help them do better in school or get them more involved socially, medically or emotionally.”
Cavender said there are numerous agencies NYAP has developed relationships with that can help.
“We develop a plan with the families and tackle it from there,” she said.
Cavender said they could refer or help them get into any type of organization in the county.
“Our job is to help empower the kids and the families to meet their needs on their own and not need help from anyone else,” Egan said.
To make a referral, volunteer to be a mentor or tutor or to make a donation, visit youthassistance.org/noblesville2
STUDENT STARS GET RECONITION
For the past four years, the Noblesville Youth Assistance Program has sponsored a Shining Stars program honoring students in each of the Noblesville Schools.
The awards are open to any student in the district.
“We would still sponsor the event even if none of the Shining Stars were in the Youth Assistance,” Ashlan Cavender said.
Due to confidentiality, the NYAP has never identified if any of the Shining Stars have used their assistance.
Some of the criteria used for picking the Shining Stars is youth that have overcome adversity or a tragedy at home or school; demonstrated a profound positive change in attitude or behavior; or overcome a significant obstacle at home or school and have made an extraordinary academic positive turnaround.
Noble Crossing Elementary fourth-grader Finn Sallmen fits that model with his positive approach. Finn said he has worked hardest on improving his English.
Stacy Sallmen said they adopted Finn and his two sisters, Mia and Zoe, who came from Ukraine in the fall of 2014. Mia is an eighth-grader at Noblesville West Middle School, and Zoe is a Noble Crossing third-grader.
“Finn has taken off, and he’s done awesome,” Stacy said. “He’s progressing very well. He has amazing teachers. Everyone at Crossing has been awesome. It’s not been easy. They come from hard places. To see him excel like this and recognized as a Shining Star is very humbling.”
2017 SHINING STARS RECIPIENTS
The following students were honored April 27 at Noblesville West Middle School’s Shining Starts ceremony:
Matthew Dewitt (second grade, Hinkle Creek Elementary), Blake Shepherd (fifth grade, Hazel Dell Elementary), Finn Sallmen (fourth grade, Noble Crossing Elementary), Megan Broviak (fifth grade, Stony Creek Elementary), Jacob Wells (third grade, Promise Road Elementary), Hannah Miller (fifth grade, White River Elementary), Torin Marcum (fourth grade, North Elementary), Ralan Clymer (eighth grade, Noblesville East Middle School), Joshua Aguilar Canales (eighth grade, Noblesville West Middle School), James Bertaux (junior, Noblesville High School).