Friday, May 18, 2012

If I could change Charlotte...

A few weeks ago, Ayana Dixon, a behavior modification technician at the Right Choices Program held on J.T. Williams' campus, told me she was holding an essay contest for her students. She wanted to know how they would change Charlotte. Here is what winner Shekinah Williams, a junior, had to say (edited for brevity and clarity):

If I could change Charlotte, I would try my best to get all the negativity out of Charlotte, because you have to start somewhere. I would let teens and children know you don’t have to be persuaded into doing what you know is wrong. I would let them know dare to be different; instead of trying to fit in, be yourself. I would let them know that we are the next generation and if we don’t stand up for what we believe is right, then there’s no telling what will happen to our generation.

Charlotte will be a better place if parents young and old raise their kids up to have respect for others. If all the negative people that are older become more positive and show the new generation coming up how to act and how to carry themselves, then we would follow.

The problem is people live by what they were raised on. I hear the saying “If my mama do it then I can do it,” or “This is how I was raised, this is all I know.” Comments like this get passed from generation from generation because that’s all some people know. Even though many were raised a certain way, they still know wrong from right. So we as teens and adults need to stand up for what we believe regardless of our background.

If I could change Charlotte, I would try and help those who are going through the struggle. I would encourage young boys and girls my age that they can make it and be whatever they want to be in life. I would take young teens and kids out of town to educational places so they can see what they can do or what they can become.

It’s a lot of teens who have been put down all their life so they feel the streets is the way to go. So they turn to drugs, sex, skipping school to get away from all the things they’re going through. There are a lot of teens trying to bring other teens down, because they’re in a bad situation. So peer pressure is one of the highest things going up in society today. Teens need to learn how to “LEAD” and not follow. If it’s more positive people in Charlotte, all the negative people will say “Oh they’re doing good and on the right track. Let me follow them.”

I once went through a phase with ... running away, and doing illegal things, and in the outcome I didn’t get anywhere but in jail and falling behind in school. I feel, yes, some of the things I was doing was because of peer pressure and thinking I had to do and be like everyone else.

I had to realize I’m my own person and when I got locked up and failing grades, I was all by myself, just me, and none of those friends who I was out there with was anywhere to be found. So now today I can say I learned the hard way.

I feel I’m already helping change Charlotte for the better, because (with) everything I’ve been through, I can tell young girls: Don’t go the way I went; it’s only going to lead you to destruction. Boys, money, partying, acting out, jail, drugs, and fighting, all those things won’t get you anywhere in life. Do the right thing, because there were some people who didn’t have a chance to turn their life around for the better.

Continue to read the Young Achievers blog. On Friday, we will post excerpts from the second- and third-place winners in Dixon's essay contest.