Never considered himself a violent person, but when he got angry, he did what most young men do – he got violent. As a young man, he found himself involved in gangs without any awareness of alternative ways to deal with his anger. One night he got in an altercation and shot someone. This resulted in a 15 year prison sentence that would forever changed his life.
Presently, he has dedicated his life to sharing the lessons he has learned. He has developed emotional literacy skills which allows him to give back to the community as an advocate for change.
Mr. Washington has been certified by the CAARR institute and has more than 10 years experience working with teens in San Diego County. He has been trained by the nationally recognized program called “Hands of Peace” and certified in the Creative Conflict Resolution Program.
He is recognized by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and Probation department for his contributions with the Youth Academy working with young adults. He is also recognized by California Crime Prevention Officer’s Association and Law Enforcement to promote public safety.
Today, Mr. Washington works with San Diego County Office of Education and San Diego Probation Department. Mr Washington also works with other schools districts such as Vista Unified, Oceanside Unified, and San Diego Unified School District. Mr. Washington has impacted many youths and has given them the inspiration and motivation to know that they are valuable individuals and to always make positive choices and to never give up on your dreams.
I grew up in Los Angeles with a single mother and having a tough childhood. Drugs and gang violence was not only constant, but became a normality in my neighborhood. As a child and growing up, I was emotionally illiterate; I did not know how to express my feelings in a healthy and appropriate manner. This led me to rebel against authority figures stemming from difficulties at home. At a young age, I became more involved in gang culture and life, using and dealing drugs which led me in and out of prison. In 1998, I was given a chance to re-educate myself and change my life for the better and I took that chance. Since then I have dedicated my life to teaching and giving back to my community. Using different treatment modalities, I have worked in several residential treatment facilities, prisons, and programs as a counselor and coach. I have been certified in Restorative Practices and facilitate groups in various settings using different modalities of treatment. One of the groups I facilitate is a group in partnership with the Carlsbad Police Department. This particular group is a Juvenile Diversion Program for 1st time Juvenile offenders in Carlsbad. Upon successful completion of the 8-week group, the youth participants are eligible to have their cases are dismissed.
I was born and raised in San Diego, CA. Growing up, I had trouble fitting in with other kids and I would get bullied and constantly beat up after school. I started getting involved with gang members when I was 12 years old and by then I was already involved in drugs. In a matter of time I became the bully.
At the age of nineteen I was arrested and I didn’t care about my life so I continued to be involved in gangs. Because of this however, four months later, I was shot in my back and ended up a paraplegic and landed in jail six months after my injury. When I was released, an old friend of mine introduced me to Reggie. They took me to a school in Oceanside and I would watch how Reggie and my friend conducted group with youth. It shocked me how they would speak about personal things, that as a kid, I would never be able speak about. Slowly I started speaking about my own self and sharing my own testimony. When youth heard my testimony and of the consequences of my actions taken in my past, they would thank me for sharing. It made me feel good to inspire and have a positive influence on their lives, and thus began my own healing process. I have lost many friends to gang violence, with most of my family and friends doing life in prison. It is my own personal goal not to have our youth that we work with, experience being incarcerated or become handicapped like myself.
Growing up, nobody ever asked me how I felt, at home I was taught “tough love” and to deal with problems as they came. The problem with this however, was that nobody taught me how to deal with situations in my life, how to deal with my emotions when I was angry or frustrated, so I found my own way through drugs and gangs. Our youth need to be heard and be able to express themselves so they don’t make the same mistakes I did and we need show them that they all have the ability to achieve whatever they want in life. Project Aware is one of the things that helped me change my life because I was able to express my self without being judged. When we are in that group circle during session, we are all equal and it’s a safe environment to be able express yourself and discuss that emotional baggage that is sometimes weighing us down. To be able to express ourselves allows us to let go of some of that baggage without having to rely on drugs and violence, but rather to rely on the support of one another and learn how to deal with our emotions.
Scotty was raised in a very functional family but he eventually strayed away from the normality of his biological family. He became heavily involved, and engaged in pursuing a lifestyle of crime and gang banging. Needless to say, this lifestyle choice eventually led to 20 years in prison. “ I am now a father, homeowner, business owner, husband, Ordained Deacon, and law-abiding citizen. As well as a Mentor for PROJCET A.W.A.R.E and the The Resilience Program, where we are teaching emotional and social literacy, forward-thinking and we engage in trauma-induced restorative practice. I was introduced to this field of work by a good friend of mine, the CEO & founder of PROJECT A.W.A.R.E, Reggie Washington. I accepted and remain in this field because of my passion for working with youth and my desire to give back to and make a difference in my community”
As a youth and young adult Basly spent most of that time not being emotionally literate. Through Basly’s illiteracy, he participated in street life. After years of being in and out of the detention center, he decided to straighten up his ways. Though he cleaned up his act he still lacked awareness of his emotions. Basyl came to project A.W.A.R.E. with the intent of beginning to understand restorative circles and what it meant to be emotionally literate. No more than a year later he is now a resilience mentor and facilitator for project A.W.A.R.E. Basyl noticed that by not understanding his emotions it had led to irrational decisions when he was a youth. Through his lived experience he offers encouragement to elicit change and guides youth to a better understanding of themselves.