Youth – Vanessa
Colorado Youth At Risk focuses on transforming youth, mentors, & the community as a whole.

Youth – Vanessa

Success Story Vanessa1

I was afraid to be me. My peers labeled me as a “Tom-boy.” When I tried to dress cute, like have my hair styled and nails manicured, I was harassed as being “fast.” I felt somewhat ashamed of being a female, so I didn’t ever want to appear as a girly girl anymore. I quickly became a rebellious teen who could care less about what others thought. When I’d stroll down the hallways, I’d always hide behind my hoodie.

My past is nothing but the past. I live in the present, and dream of my wonderful future yet to come.

I didn’t really connect with others, especially adults. Manual High closed their doors so I was forced to go to North High School. I was harassed even more by kids at North and then my grades began to fall dramatically. I started fading away from everyone and didn’t see myself graduating high school. When I was first introduced to Colorado Youth at Risk’s Steps Ahead program, I wasn’t into it at all. The program manager, Martha, was so persistent on me joining; she practically called me every day. I finally agreed to attend a meeting and decided to attend the launch course. The morning of going to the mountains, I wanted to back out but the staff persuaded me to pack my clothes and go.

I obtained so much knowledge and insight from the launch course. I was introduced to many new perspectives on life that I was unable to see before. I was able to “empty my cup” and get in touch with my emotions and ended up crying a river telling my life story to a bunch of strangers. I was also able to understand how the negative thoughts about myself were affecting my success in life.

I created an everlasting family of support and bonded with people I never thought would be possible. Having completed the Steps Ahead program and becoming a member of Touchstone, I can now see my future is full of endless possibilities. No matter the circumstance, no matter what the obstacle, I know I can and will persevere through it.

My past is nothing but the past. I live in the present, and dream of my wonderful future yet to come. I know I am a strong young woman that can endure anything thanks to the support of my wonderful CYAR family. Several mentors throughout the years held me accountable for my goals and actions and have helped to mold me to be the woman I am today. I am now a leader amongst my peers. I am a Daniels Fund Scholar and a proud member of the Dean’s List at Hastings College, majoring in Peace, Justice and Social Change. CYAR’s program has inspired me to carry on with my great work ethic and has allowed me to achieve remarkable things.

Steps Ahead and Touchstone Youth