By Ashley Benkarski
NASHVILLE, TN — Jamal Knott has put in the time and the work to make amends and a new future for himself, landing a position with Music City Construction after his graduation from the Gang Resistance and Intervention Program (GRIP) program held July 18, 2023, at the Davidson County Juvenile Court.
Knott, 17, is GRIP’s newest graduate, having completed a construction apprenticeship.
GRIP “was created to assist Davidson County youth engaging in high-risk, gang related behaviors by addressing the needs of these youth and involving them in positive community activities. The GRIP program teaches our youth a more positive approach of belonging and a productive way of life,” the Davidson County Juvenile Court’s website states.
Magistrate Elijah Wilhoite presided over the teen’s latest hearing, where he said he was “very proud” and impressed with how Knott had made deliberate choices to change his circumstances of his own accord. Determined, Knott had approached Magistrate Wilhoite and assured him he’d do what it took to get into the program, and graduated it just two weeks later. He’ll be finished with high school this month.
After finishing the two-week union apprenticeship, Knott, the youngest in his class, visited different job sites and talked to various professionals to help him decide which occupation he’d be most interested in. He chose to apply to Music City Construction and was hired the same day. Now, Knott will have the income he’ll need to do whatever he’d like with his life.
His grandfather, William Knott, proudly said Jamal has been doing quite well; he gets up at 4 a.m. for work at 5:30, and has never been late. Punctuality is critical in the construction field, said Nate Carter of Stand Up Nashville, who worked closely with Knott during his apprenticeship. Pointing to the benefits and substantial income Knott now has access to, Carter said it’s important that youth know there are more options available to them than the traditional college experience, which doesn’t guarantee a job in a chosen field and often saddles students with debt and interest on their loan amount.
For more information on the GRIP program, or any of the programs provided by Davidson County Juvenile Court visit juvenilecourt.nashville.gov/court-teams/.