"I feel like it would've just changed so many of their lives"
Francesca was referred to our October youth workshop after being charged with her first minor offense, and her mother Kristel joined her to offer support. Not knowing what to expect, Francesca pictured herself being yelled at and scolded for the decisions she’s made. What she experienced, however, was much different: “coming and being here and actually having people have rational conversations with me and listen to my story and give me feedback just helped me realize that I’m not crazy for the things I’m doing, like there’s reasoning.”
Francesca felt a strong connection to the stories being shared by the CHOOSE 180 volunteers. She expressed, “When they were talking about the drugs, the hanging out with the bad people, making the wrong choices, it just made me realize that these people actually made it somewhere in life and they still did the dumb things I’m doing right now.” During the small group sessions, Francesca shared her story, expecting to be met with attitudes and indifference. Instead, the youth in her group opened up quickly, gave her feedback, and remarked on how they could relate, helping her feel better about her own experience.
Francesca’s biggest takeaway was feeling like she had a community who understood her, reflecting, “not feeling like I’m alone and knowing that I can make a change, I can do something with my life even though I’ve made mistakes.” Francesca encourages youth who feel like they’re stuck in the same patterns to attend a CHOOSE 180 workshop. “It’s a much better option than what I’ve seen other people go through…if I could’ve sent my friends here before they had gone through the things that they’re in right now, 10/10 would’ve done it, because I feel like it would’ve just changed so many of their lives.”
Kristel, Francesca’s mother, attended the workshop to support her daughter, and found that she received support of her own from other connected adults. She recognized the importance of adult involvement and stated, “Without us cooperating, everything you do here could be lost.” Kristel’s hope is that more parents and connected adults attend in the future, for they too deserve to feel supported. Her biggest takeaway from the workshop is “Knowing that we both have the tools to move forward.”
Kristel remarked of the CHOOSE 180 workshop, “I think its much needed in our community.”
Thank you to Francesca and Kristel for sharing your stories with us. We are so inspired by your commitment to change and support of one another.