Two years ago, I was a senior in high school with only three credits. I’d failed most of my classes and was skipping school. My school counselor, dean and principal told me I would never graduate. They told me I should drop out and take the GED instead. I was anxious and depressed and felt like I should give up on school.
Then, my mother worked with the school to refer me to Youth Outreach Services (YOS) to help me get back on track. There, my counselor Erica helped me develop the tools I needed to succeed in school. She kept track of every day I attended school, which made me feel like someone was watching out for me and motivated me to go every day. Erica also taught me how to ask for help when I needed it. She introduced me to Manuel, a YOS Academic Support Case Manager who showed me how to make the most of my study time, improve my focus and to develop strong study skills. They helped me enroll in summer school and YOS even helped me get funding for my summer school expenses.
In addition to getting me on track with school, YOS helped me to deal with my anxiety and depression. Thanks to Erica’s counseling, I no longer look at my life in a negative way—I now have confidence in myself. Through the YOS Art Beat group I discovered that I have a talent for photography, and I enjoy assisting and encouraging others with their art.
Last June, I walked across the stage and received my high school diploma and now attend Triton College with plans to transfer to the University of Illinois at Chicago for a bachelor’s degree. Thanks to YOS, I know I will be successful in life. I no longer take life day by day.
My story is not much different from others. Last year, YOS helped over 3,000 kids steer away from drugs, crime and gangs; stay in school to be successful, and keep families together that are going through tough times. Eighty percent (80%) of kids on the brink of being suspended from school who were referred to the YOS Academic Support Program stayed in school and focused on their school work. Over 300 youth were successfully treated for drug and alcohol problems. The Intact Family Services program kept 99 percent of families in crisis safely together through counseling support. The YOS Adolescent Domestic Battery Program provided a safe alternative to secure detention and court shelter placement for youth involved in a domestic battery incident—100 percent of these youth have avoided further charges. These are just a few examples of how YOS changes the lives of youth in the Chicago area.
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