“I’ve been here since 2006. The impact that the West End has had on my life has been bumpy. Sometimes, they’ll do good for the community. There’s also too many abandoned houses, that they could do something with, and they’re always taking things away from us. They closed down a lot of boys and girls clubs. I grew up in those. For years, my granny used to work in one of them. I hate that they’re gone. That’s why the kids are out here.
I used to hang with the wrong crowd and get into stuff. I was young and out here in the streets. I can now say that I’ve improved a lot. I graduated and got my high school diploma, with a child. A lot of people aren’t able to do that. I went to TAPP, a pregnancy school, which helped me a lot. They helped me graduate with my regular high school.
My daughter is getting ready to be seven and I’m pregnant again. I was fifteen when I was pregnant with my daughter. I’m twenty-three now. It was kind of hard and a bad experience but I had to mature and make some changes. There were times when I wanted to give up and not go to school but I still went. It was hard but my granny stayed on my back. If she didn’t do that, I’d be out here in the streets.
I got kicked out at seventeen. I had a bad attitude and shit like that. I was always welcomed back home but I had to stay out of the streets. When I came back, I chose to stay home and do school work instead of being out here. It was always tough. My choices were to go to school or be out in the streets. It’s your main two options in the West End. I got accepted into college but I had to deal with my daughter. I was too young. Now that she’s older, I’m wanting go back to school. It’s a wake up call, now that I’m older. I had wake up to reality and snap back.
Being a teen mother was hard, especially when you’re doing everything on your own. My daughter’s father was there in the beginning, for a few months, but then he wasn’t. He was about that street life and we were both really young. I had no choice but to be independent and keep working hard for my daughter.
My strength comes from my family. I had a lot of support and a lot of help. Most people don’t have family. They just have themselves and their child and have to go sleep under bridges and at shelters with their baby.
When you stress more, you won’t find where you’re trying to go in life. It’s harder when you’re always stressed. Just stay on the right path. If it’s a goal for you to achieve something, make sure no one is in the way of stopping you from reaching it. If you’re a teen mom, stay in school and don’t let anybody steal your shine.” - Sky, Russell