Guest post by Brandy Ingram, youth coordinator at Federation of Families. This is part two of her blog post series. The FOF is an organization focused on the issues of children and youth with emotional, behavioral, or mental health needs and their families.
As a follow-up to my previous post, here are two more stories of hope from the children in our leadership program. Their struggles are real and their recovery inspiring.
Joshua,* 18 years old
My story, well, I was a young kid my family moved. I was thinking that was gonna keep me out of trouble, but everything went downhill when I met some new guys. We used to go and steal the rich kids’ bikes and sell them. We would split the money between all four of us.
When I was in the fourth grade one of my friends got 35 years in prison for murder. When I was in sixth grade, one of my best friends that I was close to got sent away because police found drugs and guns in his mom’s house.
I got into robbing people, selling drugs, stealing cars and breaking into houses and then I got caught. I got sent to a program and they told me I have something wrong with me called Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and don’t know if I really believed them, but I learned that I didn’t want to be a victim and that I had to change for the better. I have accepted God as my savior, so now I am older and trying my best to stay out of trouble, even though I get mad a lot.
Note: ODD is a condition in which a child displays uncooperative, defiant and hostile behavior for more than six months. The behavior is often disruptive to the child’s daily life, interactions and activities.
Leila*, 16 years old
Hi, I am Haitian American. I have at least 20 brothers and sisters, half of which I don’t get to see today. Life for me has been a struggle. Dealing with my mother’s death two days before her birthday has taken a huge toll on me.
When I was 11, I was sexually molested, causing me to feel very insecure about myself. Things happen and life goes by, but sometimes it’s just hard for me to spread my wings. Since then, I’ve kept my guard up, not letting anyone in, trying to figure out what lies within. After that, I fell into a deep depression, causing me to harm myself in various ways.
But that all changed when I started going to Federation of Families. It helps focus on the mental health and well-being of both child and parent. Not only did I have a shoulder to lean on, but a helping hand when times were hard. Federation of Families gave me hope, courage, and a chance to make the right decisions in my life. In a nutshell, life has been hard for me, but in the end, Federation of Families will always stand tall for me.
*Names changed for privacy.