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Hear & Now Herald: Fall 2010 issue

We've already experienced the first snow storm of the season but it's still technically Fall.  The first day of Winter will be ushered in on December 21st, the Winter Solstice, which will be the shortest day of the year. So despite the look of winter outside, this is the Fall 2010 issue and you might notice a new format.

With the launch of the System of Care website earlier in the year and the launch of the "Just for Families" section of the site, it just made sense to evolve the format of the newsletter to reflect the same design.  The editorial staff welcomes any feedback on the new format (or the content) of the newsletter.

Along with the articles and updates in this issue, take a moment to look at the right where you'll also find several links to other online resources, websites and articles.  And, be sure to join the facebook page and "like" us; you'll get updates on children's mental health, links to articles & resources related to community, health & social issues and trends.

Also, be sure to check out the Community Corner where you'll find special dates to remember and The Grind to get a youth perspective on what's happening or to check out some creative writing talent.

Happy Hoildays to all of you from the "Hear and Now Herald" editorial staff! 

(We'll see you in the Spring 2011.)

Feature Story

Community Highlights

System of Care Update

The Community Corner

The Grind

Feature Story

Building Bridges - Helping Youth in Residential Return Home Sooner & With Increased Success

By Brian Conheady, Project Supervisor, Building Bridges Demonstration Project

Photo is for illustrative purposes only.

It is unfortunate, that for some Monroe County children with acute mental health needs, appropriate treatment can mean living away from their home, their families and their community. While the care that these youth receive within the residential programs is both necessary and appropriate, Monroe County believes that this intervention should always be at the least restrictive level of care and with a focus on returning children back home in a timely and successful manner.

Monroe County Building Bridges Demonstration Project - Ensuring Effective Use of Residential Care

In an effort to improve the system of care for children and their families, the Monroe County Building Bridges Workgroup was formed in March, 2008.  For this project, the Monroe County Department of Human Services (MCDHS), Child and Family Services (C&FS) and Office of Mental Health (OMH) partnered with representatives from Crestwood Children’s Center, Hillside Children’s Center, and St. Joseph’s Villa.

Also included in this workgroup were parents and youth who have had experience with residential care. The goal of this project was to ensure effective use of residential care in Monroe County AND to infuse System of Care Values and Building Bridges Principles in all aspects of service delivery, and the policies and procedures that govern this work. This workgroup, and subsequent Building Bridges Demonstration Project, was guided by the work and principles of the national Building Bridges Initiative (www.buildingbridges4youth.org).

The Demonstration Project focuses on two critical elements:

  1. Monroe County and the residential providers will partner to ensure that System of Care values and Building Bridges principles are infused and operational within the residential settings.

  2. Child and Family Teams (CFT) will be used for youth in residential care with the intent of providing individualized and innovative approaches that are able to meet the youth and family needs, and facilitate timely discharge.

> Read the full story - "Building Bridges"

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Community Highlights

What is the Summer Youth Employment Program?

By Den'Nise Meeks,Placement Specialist, Rochester Rehabilitation Center, Inc /Employment Connection

For the second year in a row, Rochester Rehabilitation/Employment Connection successfully partnered with Monroe County ACCESS by providing work experience and essential work skills training to youth with mental health challenges through the Rochester Works! Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).

Many of the youth had their first work experience in addition to the chance of earning a competitive wage. The goal of the program was not only employment but also for youth to learn proper dress and behavior as well as conflict resolution skills.

Several of our students have gone on to obtain employment at Top’s, Wegman’s and Banana Republic just to name a few. We have also been able to continue to provide the students with assistance in writing cover letters, resume preparation, as well as, job leads. Our door remains open to these students even when the SYEP program ends.

We could not have been as successful as we were without the dedication and commitment of the Monroe County ACCESS team and Monroe County System of Care (MCSOC) partners. 

RochesterWorks! Summer Youth Employment Program looks forward to continuing the collaboration with MCSOC in assisting these very special young people with a solid foundation as they begin their careers.

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Not Your Typical Summer Job - Summer Youth Employment Program

By Annette Powell, Project Coordinator, Monroe County System of Care

The Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) is a project that provides opportunities for youth between the ages of 14-21 employment during the summer months. The program was made possible through a grant offered by RochesterWorks! Collaboratively, the Monroe County System of Care along with the Rochester Rehabilitation/Employment Connection presented a proposal that specifically created slots to employ youth with mental health challenges.

As many of you know, these are often the youth that are overlooked when it comes to hiring. This year approximately 15 youth were placed as part of a collaborative effort of six organizations that included:

  • Compeer
  • Better Days Ahead of the Mental Health Association
  • Hillside Children’s Center
  • Monroe County Youth and Family Partnership (YFP)
  • Monroe County ACCESS
  • and St. Joseph’s Villa.

The collaborating partners worked together to present an opportunity for growth and development for these youth that went beyond the actual work experience.  Each organization created a specific project for the youth employed at their site, to be completed by the end of their employment period.  The projects spread over a wide gamut of ideas, from creating procedures to interviewing neighborhood recreation centers on quality of service.

Youth also received employment skills such as work protocol: proper work attire, good attendance, work ethics, and productivity; they received training in resume writing and creation of cover letters; they even learned how to take public transportation, something we often take for granted but most of these youth knew very little about.

This experience proved to be very rewarding for everyone.  The youth were able to capitalize on new skills; they were able to utilize their current skills and expertise in a very productive way; and each organization had a finished product.   New friendships developed among the youth and among the employers.

The partnerships between the six organizations became more cohesive and partners felt “the program worked well”.  Needless to say, the partners have decided they will pursue this program again next year with the hope of providing more youth an opportunity to be a part of something positive and feel that they have made a valuable contribution to their community.

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Lessons Learned By an Adult From a Youth - A SYEP Employer Perspective 

By Melissa Cushman, Sr. Care Coordinator, Youth and Family Partnership

For the past two years, Monroe County Youth and Family Partnership (YFP) has been given the opportunity to employ a youth for six weeks over the summer as part of the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).  We have chosen to participate not only to give a youth an opportunity to work and gain experience, but also to bring ‘youth voice and perspective’, one of YFP’s guiding principles (which is also a System of Care value), to our work and our program. 

This year, the focus for our employed youth was to gather information on youth programs and activities in the community. Frequently, we and other mental health providers recommended a youth program based on our own evaluation of the services provided, only to find our youth do not follow through with this recommendation, or do not successfully engage in the program. 

We felt that we were missing the youth perspective on these programs and decided to ask our employed youth to tour selected community youth programs and critique these programs based on selected criteria. Over the six weeks, our youth toured 10 programs with the support of our Program Assistant at YFP.  A few of the places they toured were:

  • In-Control
  • Baden Street
  • Rochester Works
  • The Boys and Girls Club.

They went to these places without an appointment, asked for a tour and Adrian, the YFP youth,  asked questions that were important from a youth’s ‘need to know’ perspective.

Through this process, Adrian was able to identify for myself, as well as our team, some of the elements of youth programming that are most important to youth and make them want to return to the program.  Elements he identified as critical for youth success included: 

  • being located on a bus line
  • being in a safe neighborhood
  • open weekends
  • activities for specific age groups
  • staff that make youth feel welcome and missed
  • staff that are in control and can keep youth safe and
  • programs youth can attend despite not having good grades

Working with Adrian has exceeded my expectations. He offered us opportunity to connect with a young person on a different level, learn what is important in their lives and how to "just get to know" one another. 

He liked being busy and being in the community. He was quiet and reserved on the first few tours, but quickly felt more confident in his job and comfortable around others and with himself. He wasn’t afraid to be honest about what he liked and disliked about a program and offered many suggestions and ideas on how they could improve. 

Adrian was also well liked by the staff at YFP. He was very engaging and cheerful even in the morning.   His newly gained confidence was hard to miss as he shared all the places he went on the weekends. Before his job at YFP he did not know how to take a bus or figure out the schedule. He now travels everywhere by bus.  He was very proud of mastering reading the bus schedule and taking the bus on his own. 

Adrian’s presence and participation at YFP reminded us of the potential of youth and what they have to offer, and most importantly, seeing each youth as individual with hopes, dreams and goals.

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System of Care Updates

Taking the Time to Ask: "What Happened to You?" - A Look at the Trauma Informed Pilot

By Elizabeth Meeker, Project Director, Monroe County System of Care

This photos is for illustrative purposes only.

Simply by picking up a newspaper or listening to the local news, we know that many children and families in our community are affected by traumatic events.  We also hear and read stories about low graduation rates, high rates of out of home placement and youth involved in high risk activities. 

However, we may fail to recognize the connection between the violence and trauma and a youth’s juvenile justice involvement, school problems, mental health challenges and substance use. 

One of the fundamental challenges to treating trauma is that is often goes unrecognized. 

Many times providers, school staff, caregivers and other adults get tripped up by the “Big Behavior” – running away, truancy, aggression, substance use – and usually with the best of intentions, the adults try to get that behavior to stop.  The focus becomes centered on asking the child (sometimes with little empathy) “What’s wrong with you?” rather than asking, “What happened to you?”

Trauma is almost everywhere we turn and the impact is deep and life-shaping. It is therefore critical that a comprehensive, community-wide approach is taken to mobilize efforts to create culture change.  For this change to occur all partners – including family members, schools, community members and the child-serving system - understand the significant impact that traumatic stress may have on the lives of children and youth and to develop the skills necessary to meet the needs of children in our community. 

When an intentional, trauma informed culture is fully integrated all the way from the policy level through daily practice, the potential for healing emerges.

Through the System of Care federally funded grant and in partnership with two other grants in the community, Jail Diversion Enhancement for Women (JADE) and Rochester City School District’s Safe Schools Healthy Students (SSHS), we have been able to embark on a pilot to demonstrate what a trauma informed culture can look like in action. 

The pilot sites include:

  • Rochester Psychiatric Center’s Adolescent Inpatient Unit and Community Residence
  • Rochester City School #17
  • JADE program and
  • Family Court

While four sites are very different in terms of the services they provide, what they share in common is that they all serve children and families who have endured trauma. 

Consultants Roger Fallot, Ph.D., and Lori Beyer, LICSW from Community Connections in Washington, DC met with the sites for an initial site visit in April.  In June, the pilot officially kicked of with a two-day training with the implementation teams. 

These teams are currently working to develop plans to roll out TIC within their settings looking all aspects of their program based on a core set of trauma informed values – Safety, Trustworthiness, Choice, Collaboration and Empowerment.  In addition, each team along with staff from the Monroe County Office of Mental Health and DHS Child & Family Services has identified trainers who can train staff on “Understanding Trauma” and “Staff Support and Care.”  

It is our goal as part of the Monroe County System of Care to achieve a fundamental shift in thinking and practice in our community that will result in child –serving systems that incorporates the values of trauma informed care into every aspect of services offered.  The System of Care will continue to share updates from the pilot sites as they take on the challenge of integrating this practice change. 

As this is achieved and then rolled out through the community, families can be assured that no matter which door a child and family enters to find support, they will be greeted warmly and asked, “What happened to you?”

To learn more about this pilot or the TIC training please contact Elizabeth Meeker at emeeker@monroecounty.gov.

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SWAT Youth Council Member Presents at National System of Care Conference in Washington, DC

By Bianca Logan, SWAT Youth Council Member

When I was selected to go to the Washington DC training institutes, I was excited and scared. I had been out of state to Tennessee for the System of Care Training Institutes before but this time I was presenting!

I was mostly anxious about presenting but I had a secret excitement inside of me too. It’s an amazing experience to have the opportunity to go out of state, fly on a plane, stay in an awesome hotel, and see the real movement the System of Care is making. I was even more excited that my mom was able to come as family representation. She hasn’t had a vacation in many years and hadn’t been on a plane in probably the same amount of time so it was like a fresh new experience for her too! It was great to have my mom there especially for when I presented, to stand up there and speak to the members of the workshop/institute and have familiar faces looking back really made me feel supported.

The response from the participants after I shared my experiences and my perspective on a few topics was so cool and to see how interested they were in bringing back youth voice to their communities and to do their part in making sure it is in their local System of Care.  I felt so listened to, accepted, and proud to have my voice heard and the hope that all of those people were going to do their part in bringing youth voice to the table.  I wish every youth was able to have the experience I had! 

Having the tourist experience was a little awkward but fun at the same time.  I saw a lot of things I thought only existed in social studies books, but I was right there seeing it with my own eyes.  I was in three different states all in one day from riding the water taxis... those were fun I wish we could do that in Rochester too. I would probably spend too much money doing that though so it’s a good thing they aren’t here!

Source: Kaplan International Colleges Website

We also went to this AMAZING Chinese restaurant.   They brought out hot towels and the food was GREAT.  It was NOTHING like Rochester Chinese food and I thought the meal would be like, a million dollars but it wasn’t; it was very reasonable! I think the Chinese place was the best place we ate... well, besides the sub place we went to - they were very yummy!

The whole experience was well rounded and allowed me to break out of my shell a bit to present and feel supported, and believed in.  As I said before, I wish every youth could do this and have as great of an experience as I did! 

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The Community Corner

Crisis, in Chinese, Means Danger & Opportunity:
A Personal Story of a Youth "in Crisis" and the Opportunity She Found

By Kellyn

When I was in my sophomore year of high school I got the flu. Now, normally I have trouble with getting over the flu but this time I had even more difficult time and it ended up turning into an eating disorder the doctors called stress induced vomiting.

It was not only the stress induced vomiting, but behavioral too. When I get the flu I normally refuse to try and just make my mom help me do everything but since they couldn’t do that for me, I just ended up refusing to try and relied on the doctors to get me better.

Yet if you really think about it, who besides your self can change a behavior that you are causing to happen. I had to learn that myself. No matter how many people told me that if I tried I could get over this hurdle. Yet by the time I had realized that I needed to get myself better, I had dug such a deep hole that I actually couldn’t get out of it with out least a little help. I was in this situation for around ten months. I was in and out of the hospital during this whole time. I got down to a very low weight; around 70 pounds.

While in the hospital I had to have feeding tubes. The feedings tubes would help me keep food down because it slowly put food in my stomach and it helped me gain some weight. Each time I had to go back into the hospital it was not because of stress but because I did not want to help my self and I wanted everyone else to do it for me. As I started to realize this, I decided I was in the hospital for the last time.

I was so tired of being so small, easily frustrated, and not being able to see my family and friends. 

When you get to a low weight your body is just trying to focus on getting you better so your thoughts are not being polite and not controlling your emotions. As a result of this you are easily frustrated and lose your temper at the drop of a pin.

> Read the full story - "Crisis, Means Danger & Opportunity"

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Temper Tamers: Family Support for Managing "Big, and Small, Behaviors"

By Debby Myricks, Family Mentor, Better Days Ahead Family Support Network, the family run service of the Mental Health Association

Temper Tamers is an anger management (behavioral) program designed to be implemented over eight sessions. This program was developed by Kathryn Pearson M.S., licensed psychologist. The program uses three strategies to aid elementary school aged children who struggle to manage challenging and difficult behaviors.

The program takes a step by step behavioral approach to teaching anger management strategies to children. Many children are unaware that there are emotions other than happy, sad and mad, so often those “other” emotions emerge as anger. The three areas identified by Kathryn were:

  • helping children to sort out feelings
  • helping them to express feelings once recognized and
  • helping to chart a course of action to avoid getting into trouble

The use of stories, the stoplight solution, and assertiveness training make up program structure. The program is provided to children with the hopes that after completing the program parents will see fewer instances of unwanted behaviors and children will exhibit less anger and aggression.

This photos is for illustrative purposes only.

Originally, Temper Tamers was designed and presented to school aged children. Better Days Ahead, a family support network of The Mental Health Association has begun a parent training curriculum to inform parents and caregivers of core concepts and strategies for behavior management.

This year, The Mental Health Association’s Better Days Ahead program developed a parent piece to Temper Tamers. The purpose of the parents going through the program was to help parents support and encourage children to use their newly learned skills. It was soon realized that there was an added bonus, parents learned about themselves and their own emotions as well. The classes have been so successful; better days Ahead plans to run it in the spring and fall of 2011.

It is an honor to have the benefit and pleasure of facilitating the Temper Tamer program. I can honestly say I have grown from the opportunity and it has been extremely rewarding to see families benefit as well! When we first started the program, I told parents and truly believed, “We may not change the behaviors but we will change the way you view and respond to them.”

I did not realize at that time, that once this was achieved that we would be supporting parent empowerment.

To see the changes in the families from week one to week eight is phenomenal. Helping parents to understand “behaviors are a manifestation of an unmet need” seems to facilitate understanding of behaviors and better communication between family members.

As the facilitator, one of the benefits of this program is that it reminds us that when families know better, they do better! It was very gratifying to see parents implement core concepts and be rewarded with growth and change in communication and family strengths.

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SWAT Youth Council Open Meeting - 4th Tuesdsays of the Month

Youth - attend an informal meeting of the SWAT (Spreading Wellness Around Town) Youth Council to meet other youth who are facing the same types of challenges your are.  Join the discussions or just hang back and listen.  Either way, attending a meeting will be a chance to maybe learn something new, make a new friend and be in the company of kids who have experienced a lot of what you have.

Check out the flyer and print it as a reminder!

The SWAT Open Meeting meets every 4th Tuesday of the month at the Rochester Monroe County Youth Bureau at 435 E. Henrietta Rd. (Monroe Community Hospital)

If you want to learn more or plan to join us, contact Jerard Johnson, Youth Engagement Specialist at 585-753-2695.

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Our Daily Heroes: Brian Conheady &  RTS Customer Service

Submitted by Todd Liddell,

Brian Conheady, Project Supervisor, Building Bridges Demonstration Project, who in the last year has really committed himself to System of Care efforts through his work overseeing the Building Bridges Demonstration Project, and has already shown some impressive work with families.  He does an excellent job delivering the four day Child and Family Team (CFT) training and as part of the core curriculum committee, which is developing a curriculum and plans to roll out CFT (and SOC values and principles), to even more of the community at large.  He has proven to be a true believer in SOC values and an outstanding champion for the System of Care movement.

Submitted by Melissa Cushman, Sr. Care Coordinator, Youth and Family Partnership 

A customer service rep at Rochester Transit Service (RTS) was so helpful and extra patient in assisting Adrian, a summer youth worker placed at YFP (Youth and Family Partnership) as part of the RochesterWorks! Summer Youth Employment Progarm.  I had explained the situation to the rep about teaching Adrian how to call RTS to get help in using the bus system.  She was very patient with him while he gave information on where he was and where he needed to go. This was a very lengthy phone call and not once did she try to hurry him up or sound impatient.  At the end, she even congratulated him on doing it.  Adrian's response was "now I can take the bus anywhere!" 

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Youth Speak Out for Change - Youth Power! Western Region Youth Forum to be Held in Rochester on December 29th

Calling Youth who have been labeled and seek to bring change to the system! 

Please come if you are a Young Person 14-24 in the Western Region:

Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Ontario, Orleans, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates Counties

and if you have experience with:

Disabilities, Mental Health, Juvenile Justice, Foster Care or Substance Abuse

This event is designed by youth for youth! The goal of this forum is to bring youth together for a common purpose and provide each other inspiration to speak-out for change!  Print the flyer as a reminder to come out to the youth forum.

WHEN: December 29, 2010 12-4pm

WHERE: 1099 Jay Street, Building: J; Fact Room: 10, Rochester, NY

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February 19th; 6:00-11:00pm - Camp Get-a-way Fundraiser

Camp Get-A-Way is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the mission of strengthening and supporting families of children having an emotional, behavioral, or mental illness. The concept for camp was developed by parents living in the WNY area.

WHEN: February 19, 2011 from 6:00-11:00pm

WHERE: Ely Fagan Post, 260 Middle Road, Henrietta, NY

$10 Admission includes: silent auction, 50/50 raffle, DJ & Dancing, and appetizers, provided by East High Culinary Arts Program.

For more information, call 585-469-2937 or visit the website at www.cgaw.org

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The Grind

The section of the newsletter for youth, by youth or anyone looking for some fresh perspective - a youth perspective.


Sweet Youth

By James Acker, Youth

 Not let me reminisce as I rhyme
to tell you of my dear past time
There was a young boy-his name is Youth
which was partially evident by his missing tooth
with bandages on his knees and his dirty face
one could see how he loved to race
with his friends in the neighborhood street
Joyously he ran with his bear feet
He would always be content and light as a feather
as he always expected sweet warm weather
Although he had yet to grow and a bigger body to obtain
he never worried unless the sky began to rain
How depressing the day would be
if in that baby blue sky no happy smiling sun he could see
with his pleasant boyish grin he found he could win
the heart of anyone no matter what predicament he was in
He had a pure sincere heart wrapped in gold
As he watched the mysteries of life unfold
with his undying and unconditional love
he soared through the sky like a beautiful white dove
Shall I compare my youth with diamonds or most valuable gold?
No, for my boyhood is more precious than all this world can hold.
How much better we'd live and how free we'd be
if we'd realize that youth lives in you and-
He always lives in me.

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Summer of Opportunity Work Experience

By:   Jynasia Becoats, RochesterWorks! SYEP, Summer Youth Worker

This summer I had my first job and it was with the Summer of Opportunities program.  It was a great experience!  I had to complete an interview process and it was exciting when I got hired.  I wanted to learn everything possible about working at Rochester Rehab on Elmwood Avenue where I did clerical work in the office and worked in the physical rehab unit. 

The first day I was at my job, I kind of felt a little overwhelmed but then I got used to it and I learned all the steps in three days.  After my training, I was responsible to do my work on my own.  I learned how to file paperwork, put together marketing packets, and alphabetize filing. I was also responsible for doing the laundry for the physical rehab unit and sanitize the patient beds and exercise equipment.

I learned a lot from this experience.  I felt like I was an adult going to work everyday and earning a pay check.  I got feedback from people that I had matured from working.  I felt that I was doing a good job at Rochester Rehab and I feel more reliable because I got a chance to work and learn new things.  I am more confident about myself.  Because of the good experience I gained from working this past summer, I am participating in another program to seek part-time employment.  I am hopeful I will find a job and it is all because of what I learned about myself working this summer.

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By Jay-Jay Davis AKA Reality, 13
(Source: http://www.artfromashes.org/poems.html

Can someone please say AMEN
Stand up and understand
We need a HERO to guide and hold our hand...
The Nation of my generation is unhealthy
And the choices we make lead us to destruction
It wasn't that we were taught wrong, brought up wrong or shown wrong
And never wanted to do right
I think our parents should make verbal contact rather than physical ones
Because mental contact is more powerful than anyone's
Words or physical abuse and the misuse of all profanity...
And I would hate to see my generation die of not being able to
eat the Word "Opportunity"
Like an African child falling
To their feet...
Can my HERO please take away my generation’s confusion?
Can my HERO please put my generation in an illusion?
Trick us or even just heal us from the feel of fitting in
Cause at the end of the day life doesn't want to be your friend
And the streets don't want the best for you
And the rap songs just want to brainwash you
And the sexual experiences just want you to lose value
So can my HERO please save this generation?
‘Cause it's going to take more than Obama
To rearrange our situation
From Englewood, California to the Bronx, New York
Back up to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and all the way
To the South side of Atlanta, Georgia and
Back down to Houston, Texas
Stretching banging ways to the tip of Tampa Bay, Florida are gangs
Takin’ over my generation
Tears, Bullets, Drugs, Weapons and Survival on my mind
Daddy wasn't there this time

> Read the full poem - "Hero"

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Judgement of Me?

by Jamal Miles, 15

(Source: http://www.artfromashes.org/poems.html)

 Why did that little girl say that I had worms in my head?
My spirit is not dead.
How could you look at my black & not look any further?
That's murder.
My spirit is not dead.
Because I am young, I am dumb?
Unwise, inexperienced, not knowing peace.
As you judge me in your over-extravagant car.
My spirit is not dead.
Oh, you have missed so much.
Because I am male I have to fit your image
Of who you think I should be.
My spirit is not dead.
I am not the man you may think…
Come along for a ride and you will see
That there is oh so much more to me.
My spirit comes alive as you look into my eyes
You still can't see me.
I will say it again.
I am Black & White,
Country & Hood
Business & Street
Poor & Rich
Beaten by the world
But still blessed.
I am not a victim
nor do I owe any explanation
To any person who does not
Take the time to walk with me.
I will leave you with one thing, though.
The stars don't even limit me.
Come & see.
My spirit is not dead.

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