The circumstances and conditions to which we are exposed in Baltimore’s neglected environments are scary. Depression is one feeling that is common among the youth where I was raised in Baltimore City. We are expected to fail from the moment of birth.
The background in this photo is a representation of about half of Baltimore city. This is what we see every day. This is the environment that we have to raise our kids in. This is what makes us want more for ourselves and our community, especially our youth.
My biggest state of depression came while I was incarcerated. I made poor decisions and I had to suffer the consequences. Being a child, at 15 years old I was stripped away from school, my family, andliberty. I felt a sense of a disappointment in myself for the poor choices I made. I was left in a depressed frame of mind which was enhanced by the negative space I was forced to adapt to. I feel for all the people that I know who feel exactly like I did and I want more for them, my community as a whole, and my people as a culture.
Some youth take action to change their conditions. Though their intensions may be good, their decisions aren’t always the best and they are not always conscious of the consequences that the wrong decisions may warrant. Some may take the wrong action and either learn from their mistakes or drown in the backlash of the decisions they made. I was one of the people who took the wrong approach and learned from my mistakes but everybody will not be as fortunate as I was to have the opportunity I had to bounce back.
Even today, I deal with depression. Constantly haunted by the past decisions I made. I didn’t have a normal childhood. Being put into an adult facility at 15 and adult prison by 16 didn’t make my situation any better. I’m 20 years old and on parole and probation. My childhood decisions still limit me from doing what I feel I need to do to better myself.
I decided to dedicate my efforts to helping people that are in the same position I was in. I would like to do whatever I can to ensure that we reach as many people as possible. I know what I have been through and I’m sure that there are a lot of people growing up feeling just like me. I am an example of our goals for them. The victims of circumstances. The broken homes. The children of addicts. The barely legal convicted felons. For them, depression is as natural as breathing sometimes. The ability to withstand it gives us confidence that it can be overcome. The ability to overcome it makes us warriors in any cause that we are willing to fight for.
-Kevin R., Just Kids Youth Leader