An Ounce of Prevention: Nyesha’s Story
I was introduced to Nyesha at the Community Center last week, where she spent much of her time as a high school student almost 7 years ago. Still in contact with her mentor, Serina Brown, Nyesha now sends her daughter to Community Center programming. Nyesha reflected on how her time at the Center positively affected her life:
“Growing up, around me there was a lot of fighting, violence, a lot of gun violence, drugs, a lot of kids skipping school,” she says. “The summer in the area I grew up is kind of like a run around to do whatever you want. There’s no structure. I felt like when I came to the Center it was a structured program.”
“When I started going to the Center, I was in 9th grade. I started going in the summertime. It was a different approach. The after-school programs I had been to before were okay but they didn’t really take the effort to get to know you and the stuff you like to do. None of the other programs I had been to talked about God in the curriculum, so it was a different approach for me.”
Prior to coming to the Center, Nyesha would often get into fights when someone made her angry. Through her relationships with the Community Center staff, she learned how to control her anger.
“I was a serious fighter, and I really was taught to channel my anger here. It kept me from having a criminal background,” she says.
When talking about the relationships she formed with the staff, Nyesha said she was, and still is, very close with Serina Brown, Director of Community Center. Serina became like a second mom to Nyesha during her years at the Center.
High school is a formative time for most teens, and Nyesha was no different. For so many, choices made during this time can determine whether or not they make it to graduation and what direction their life takes afterwards. In 2016, the graduation rate from Harrisburg High School was 56%. Of students who had been enrolled in Bethesda Mission Community Center programming for 2 or more years, the graduation rate was 86%! In addition to increasing their chances of graduating, attending Community Center programming helps to prevent kids and teens from becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs. Even if their home life is good, there are a variety of outside influences that can affect their success.
Nyesha graduated from high school in 2011 and now has 3 kids of her own, a 7-year-old daughter, a 3-year-old son, and a 5-month-old daughter. She is a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and goes to school online for early childhood education. She hopes to work with kids once she finishes her degree.
Since the Community Center is an extended family for Nyesha, it only makes sense that she would send her kids. This past summer was the first year her 7-year-old attended Community Center programming.
“It was one of the scariest things in my life with kids that I had to do, but I trust the Center. She loves it! Oh my goodness, that’s all she talked about the whole summer. That’s all she talks about now. She can’t wait until next summer,” Nyesha says.
She recommends that other Harrisburg parents send their children to the Community Center.
“I just really would recommend that people who don’t want their kids to be on the streets, that they send them here, especially since it’s more common for boys to be on the streets. I’m definitely going to send my son here,” she says.
Her involvement at the Community Center prevented Nyesha from getting into serious trouble for fighting. It is a second home and extended family for her — one that she wants her own children to be involved in. Our Community Center staff mentors students to help them make good choices and be positive influences in their homes, schools, and communities.
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