Imagine how good it feels to overcome a challenge. Now imagine you’re 12-years-old.

“In the beginning, when I first came to John G. Wood School, I hated it. I felt like I could not do anything fun. I felt like everyone was against me. I felt like I didn’t belong here so I started acting out. Then one day my teacher was really trying to relate to me. She started talking to me and helping me with my feelings. She really did love me. So did everyone else. I wanted to ask them, “why do you guys love me even though I’m rude and mean sometimes?” But I know they would say I’m just that type of person that can’t go on living without being loved. I used to think love was poison that went through you. It really killed you inside. It made you hurt. Maybe I was wrong. I then started doing my work and getting A’s. I still need to work on things and will always need to. I’m ready to go to public school to fight through the challenges that it gives me. Change, even though we don’t like it, it’s a part of life and always will be. I take a step every day and I get stronger. There’s that saying and I think it’s right, “nobody ever said life would be easy, but it will be worth it.” Every person in the world has a choice to be incredible or make bad choices. Maybe I chose the right path. All of my teachers helped me a lot. But it wasn’t just the grownups that I learned from it was every kid in the JGW elementary school. I didn’t really like kids, but now I do. I feel loved and that I belong with my peers. I’m a popular kid. They taught me a lot about nature, animals, and insects. I was more like their big sister and they were my little brothers and sisters. They are smart kids and I know they will choose the right path just like I did. I believe in all of them like I believe in myself.”

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This story is real but names and images have been changed to protect the youth’s identity.

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