“I’m finding so many avenues that I can channel my talent into, and I feel like the anger that clouded my judgment before is going away.”
When I was growing up, I didn’t get a lot of support. I felt like I was missing love and acceptance. I started making bad decisions and got involved in the gang lifestyle. I got into fights and committed crimes that I regret to this day. I was filled with anger and it clouded my judgment. Things got so bad that a year ago I was facing significant time in jail.
Thankfully, the judge on my case gave me a break, and I was sentenced to Limited Secure Placement at The Children’s Village instead of jail. Since then I’ve been determined to change. I want my story to be about how I’ve responded to the hard times, not what I did before.
In the short time I’ve been at CV, I’ve learned a lot. I work hard to make sure I’m getting something I can take away from my time here. Our recreation department offers so much. I’m most proud of getting my ServSafe* certification from our café so I can work in the food industry. I’ve also gotten really involved with the CV programs that give a voice to young black men like me. I’ve participated in rallies and created art to spread awareness of the disadvantages youth of color can face in our world. I joined the basketball team and practice all the time. If I’m not practicing, I’m in the weight room getting stronger. I’m even learning about computer programming and technology. I’m finding so many avenues that I can channel my talent into, and I feel like the anger that clouded my judgment before is going away. If I were sent to a jail, there’s no way I would have learned these tools and skills, so I’m thankful for the time I have here. I’ve been doing really well and been accountable, so they’re moving me to a less restrictive program at CV, which is a great thing. To me it just means more opportunities to find things I like to do.
I should be going back home from CV in a few months, and I want to share my story with kids in my local high school. I’ve gotten passionate about recreational therapy since it’s really helping me – I think I can give back to my community by sharing some of the things I’ve learned.
Khadim is one of the young men who come to CV through the Close to Home program, which allows teens who have been involved in criminal behavior to live in therapeutic residential sites near their communities. It provides an environment that focuses on family, relationships, education, work skills, and structure using evidence-based models of care. What We Believe – Children and youth should not be sent to jail or face incarceration. They do best when served in locations that offer education, therapy, opportunities to develop skills, recreation, and are close to family.