“I visualize where I want to be in five years and ask myself, ‘What steps can I take to get closer to my goals?’”
Music is everything to me. In sixth grade, I joined my school's chorus. I couldn't sing all the songs because of my religious background, so I couldn’t continue. That discouraged me musically, but my mom suggested I try band. Although I was worried I wouldn't fit in there either, I chose the trumpet. I'll be the first to say it: I was really bad!
It took more than a year of hard work to become good at playing the trumpet, but that one instrument catapulted my passion for music. Today, I also play the piano, saxophone and drums — and I'm 100% self-taught. I even write and compose music.
Like many young people, I didn't have an easy life growing up. Experiencing hardship early on caused me to struggle with my mental health. As a child, I couldn't express my feelings. That turned into anxiety and anger and depression as a teen. Music helped me cope, but I always knew I needed more.
Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County played a crucial role in helping me become the best version of myself. I started treatment in 2019 and dug deep into how my mental health impacted me and those around me. Being at the Club gave me a foundation to stand on and the strength to move forward — especially because I had the support of my mentor, Ms. Rasheedah.
Did you know? 90% of Club kids are able to recognize the emotions they’re feeling and understand how their feelings influence their actions.
I'll never forget Ms. Rasheedah’s first day at the Club. She asked us: "Does anyone here know how to sing?" Then she started singing. Her voice was amazing. Even though I didn't speak up to say I could sing, I felt an immediate connection to Ms. Rasheedah because she loved music like me.
The day my father passed away, I didn't want to go home because I knew I'd have to assume the responsibility of my household as just a teenager. Usually, I would keep to myself, but I felt compelled to share the news with Ms. Rasheedah. She sat with me in the office and listened. She even bought me dinner. She showed me something I had been missing my entire life: individual attention. Interest in me as a person. The kind of compassion that says, "I don't know you, but I still love you and care for you."
Not only did Ms. Rasheedah care about me during that difficult time, she kept caring about me. She helped me with Youth of the Year, applying for jobs and many other things.
Did you know? 85% of high school Club kids report having an adult they feel comfortable talking to at their local Club.
With all the problems in the world today, staying focused on my future hasn’t always been easy. But when things are tough, I visualize where I want to be in five years. I ask myself, "What steps can I take to get closer to my goals?" Thankfully, I have my Club and Ms. Rasheedah to give me that extra push beyond my comfort zone.
If I could give advice to today’s young people, I would say: don't be afraid to put in the hard work or mess up. Sometimes it's scary to put yourself out there, but I haven't let challenges get in my way of pursuing a scholarship to college to study music education.
Two years ago, the quiet kid who didn't speak up the day Ms. Rasheedah asked if any of us knew how to sing would've never dreamed she'd be going to college to turn her passion for music into a lifelong career. But because of my Club's support, I’m looking forward to making a positive difference in the world by teaching the next generation about the power of music.
Today’s young people are tomorrow’s leaders, innovators and problem solvers. But too many kids aren’t sure where their next meal will come from, don’t have a safe place to go after school, and often don’t have the support they need to prepare for college or a career. Now through Dec. 31, 2022, Kohl’s will match your donation to Boys & Girls Clubs of America, turning $1 into $2, to give more kids the meals, mentors and meaningful life experiences they need to become the leaders we’re counting on to create a better future.
We’re counting on them. They’re counting on us. After all, they’re the only next generation we’ve got.