Jason came to Cunningham 18 months ago. The challenges of his childhood had left him feeling hopeless, and alone. This week we celebrate with him as he graduates from high school!
Jason, now 18, has learned that his past doesn't dictate his future, he found hope and connection while at Cunningham Children's Home. During graduation these lessons were evident as he addressed his peers and staff from Gerber School during the commencement ceremony. His speech was powerful. We want to share just a portion of it with you.
"When I first came to Gerber my caseworker shared these words with me, 'Jason you will be a senior soon, you are about to face the challenges of the real world and I am going to try to prepare you for real life.'
Those words have stuck into the back of my head to this day.
Look at me now...he was right.
This is for every youth in this room. I know that you think that being here and away from your family is something bad but I will tell you this, the people here love what they do and they are meant to help you.
Like R Kelly said in his song, "Hey I've made it. I'm the worlds greatest." Every single one of you all will make it and you will be the world's greatest.
It's time for you to step up and succeed at what you want to do in this life.
I'll leave you with this, once you put your mind to something carry it out, make it possible because everyone in this room will succeed."
With his closing remarks, the room suddenly erupted into cheers and a standing ovation, the lessons Jason shared clearly inspired his peers.
Jason is already enrolled in community college for the fall semester; he is working full time this summer, and is planning for his transition from the Kendall Gill Boys Group Home to Cunningham's Transitional Living program while working with staff to build the skills he needs for independence.
Jason has already taken his own advice; he has set his mind to something and has a plan in place to carry it out. And we are confident he will be the 'Worlds Greatest'!
*Names are changed and photos are selected to protect the privacy of our clients.