Tyler comes from a family that has a history of mental illness. When Tyler entered into our program at the age of 15 ½ years old, he had the mental capacity of about a 10-year-old. Along with his being behind in cognitive years, he had extreme anger. He had absolutely no coping skills to handle his anger. Simple commands for Tyler were turned into full blown situations. Prior to him starting our program, he was about 15 at the time, his parents took his cell phone from him as a form of punishment, he walked out of the house at about 9:30pm with no shoes, no shirt, and walked about 2 miles until he was located. Another incident, he was told by mom he couldn’t go to play basketball and it turned physical. These are the types of outbursts he would have when he felt that things did not go his way. He did not have reasoning skills, social skills, nor good communication skills. Tyler has been in our program since its inception. He has really enjoyed boxing and will begin fighting as an amateur through USA Boxing. Boxing, which is a part of our Harakati program has helped him tremendously, learn discipline and how to manage his anger. Tyler does not have the same outbursts that he used to have when he first joined our program. He is one of our most dedicated volunteers. He loves working with children. We often work with foster kids through Marion and Hamilton Counties. He learned how to mow a lawn with our program. We volunteer doing lawncare for elderly folks. He is always willing to help when he can. When we did mock job interviews, Tyler was the first kid to be hired on the spot. Our goal setting and job preparedness in meetings has helped him. He now works in sales at Uncle Bill’s Pet Store.
Antonio has been a part of the program for three and a half years. Antonio has been expelled from school twice, once in fourth grade and the second time in 8th. He came to our program in the 8th grade after being expelled. He was 15 years old. He comes from a family of five kids, he is the youngest. The four other siblings have had run-ins with the law and have been a part of the criminal justice system. Because of his environment, he seemed to be destined to follow in the footsteps of his older siblings. Two of the four siblings did not finish high school and later went on to get GED’s. The other two siblings did complete high school. Antonio is a talented athlete and attends Tindley High School and is scheduled to graduate and go on to college. He will be the first child in his family to move onto higher education. His mom does hold multiple degrees and his father has a high school education. At his former elementary school, the principal said that he would not amount to much and looked at Antonio to be a menace. Sports and mentoring have saved Antonio. His siblings were not involved in any type of mentoring programs, whereas Antonio is and therefore his approaches to life are giving him better outcomes. Although all siblings have the same parents and have grown up in the same environment, mentoring is the difference. One on one mentoring, volunteering in the community and group sessions are keeping Antonio on track. His gpa at Tindley is well over a 3.0. Last year in football he received awards for Offensive Player of the year, MVP, and all city running back. Our mentors are at the games cheering Antonio on! We expect to watch him receive his diploma next spring.
Chyann is the oldest of six children. She lives at home with her mom. Chyann suffers with depression and anxiety. When she came into our program five years ago, she had low self esteem and extreme anger issues. Chyann does not have a relationship with her father at all. Although we have reached out to her father to try and broker a relationship between the two he has refused. This broken relationship with her father has caused Chyann not to trust easily. It caused her to have troubled relationships with guys and she has not witnessed what a loving relationship should look like between a man and a woman. Since coming to our program, our mentors immediately noticed the gifts that Chyann has working with children and in the public sector. Helping to build up her esteem was one of the main focuses for Chyann and helping her to realize her potential. Her high school principal told her that she would most likely drop out of school and not amount to much. Thank goodness she left that school and went to another where she graduated and now attends Martin University studying Liberal Arts but plans to transfer to a school in Atlanta to study Marine Biology. She is a sophomore at Martin. She finished her first year with a 3.0. She is working at Edna Martin Center tutoring young kids. She has proven to those that doubted her that she will amount to something. Our mentors believe that she is capable of doing whatever she puts her mind to. She has the gift of gab and is very business minded. These skills are being encouraged. We have watched her grow from that sad and insecure girl to a determined and secure young woman.