Program Manager / Student Advocate
Natchez Trace Youth Academy
Brent carries on the legacy of the founder of the Native American Enrichment Track at Natchez Trace Youth Academy, a residential treatment program for young men ages 11-17 located in Waverly, TN. The program is designed for adolescent boys and teens who have faced several unique experiences with trauma, hardship and peer culture challenges as they navigate adolescence and determining the path of their lives. Brent aims to guide young men to balance their commitment to societal expectations, culture, and customs with an honest hard look at the choices in front of them. When left unchecked during an already turbulent period in their lives, their circumstances can lead to behavioral issues, emotional struggles and even addiction. Through his role at Natchez Trace Youth Academy, Brent helps these young men find a path towards the power of choice and success by using their positive peer culture, experiential treatment, and indigenous traditions as a support system and a model for health.
Brent helps young men explore their choices, desires and future using indigenous understanding to support them in discovering what it means to be connected to the worlds they live in and themselves. His program integrates many rites of passage, prayer, and purification that indigenous cultures have shared with their youth for 1000’s of years. The Sweat Lodge, Talking Circle, Medicine Wheel, and drumming circle ceremonies are powerful ways to move what needs to move and allow for something new to come forward. The intention is to have a new experience of connectedness that encourages better problem-solving abilities, increased self-worth, and positive behaviors.
Brent struggled with his own challenges and was profoundly affected by a Native American ceremonial experience he participated in as a young man. When his rebellious behavior drew him to the brink, he was offered the opportunity by a Lakota elder to learn and commit to a tradition to do the personal work through the ceremonies that he now offers to his students. Brent sees his role at the Academy as a way to honor his elder, his own path, and to pay it forward.