POSITIVE INFLUENCE - Young mentor hopes to make a difference

The first time Cameron Price saw the police and his parents talking at school about his behavior, he knew he needed to change his attitude.

The 21-year-old, a graduate of Pine Bluff High School, started getting into trouble at school for talking back to the teacher or for uniform violations. In his junior year, he started skipping classes—he skipped so much that a police officer threatened him with juvenile detention. Price reached his turning point.

“I changed my ways because I didn’t want to go down the wrong road in life,” Price said. “I wanted to be somebody in life and make my family proud.”

Now, not only does Price want to keep his own life on the right track, he wants to help others do the same.

Earlier this year, Price applied through the Jack Jones Juvenile Justice Center to become a mentor to at-risk youth.

“When I first asked about it, I thought it was a volunteer position; then I found out that I would get some pay,” Price said.

Still, he said, “It is not about the money.”

In fact, Price said he was not paid during the recent government shut down and has not been paid since it ended. But he still visits some of those he mentors – a group of boys and young men ranging in age from 13 to 18 years old.

Price believes that youngsters get into trouble because they follow the wrong crowd, don’t get involved in productive activities, lack positive role models and sometimes lack strong parental support. As a mentor he hopes to be a good role model and someone who cares enough to talk to them — and someone who listens. He hopes that will help them make better decisions.

“Sometimes they just need some motivation,” Price said

Price, who gets support from his family — particularly his mother, Vicky — said there are some youngsters who, without a strong sense of family, look for things to do outside the home.

“There is not a lot for young people to do in Pine Bluff and that makes it easier to fall into the wrong crowd,” Price said. “But they still have to try and find a better way to occupy their time.”

Price recommends that youngsters get involved in community activities, church activities or school activities.

Price has finished his freshman year at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. He plans to return to college and major in criminal justice. He wants to make a career of mentoring young men.

“If I could change at least one at-risk youth’s life, that will mean a lot to me,” Price said.