HARRIS' HEROES

'Youth for Tomorrow' provides troubled teens a fresh start

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For some area teenagers, Youth for Tomorrow has become a home away from home.

Youth for tomorrow (Photo: WJLA)

Since it opened in 1996, more than 1,000 troubled juveniles have come to the Bristow, Va. campus for education, therapy and simply a safe place for kids to be kids.

"You see kids who are embarrassed, ashamed, angry and depressed," Youth for Tomorrow Chief Executive Dr. Gary Jones said. "Within a few months, they leave with self-confidence, (a) sparkle in their eye, (a) spirit in their step."

For 18-year-old Jazzman, it was the place she went after a self-destructive childhood.

"These people here really love me," Jazzman says after she said she had hit "rock bottom."

"They cared so much. They refused to give up on me," she says.

For 17-year-old David, the transition was tougher after coming close to going to jail. He said he was crazy and that he would fight a lot. When he got to Youth for Tomorrow, his GPA was at 0.0.

"Now that I came here and taking full advantage, there are things here that I need," he says. David is now thriving - and his GPA is up to 2.43.

"Kids are not only choosing to excel academically for themselves, but they are encouraging their peers to do so as well," Dr. Courtney Gaskins, the Director of Program Services, says.

One thing that all participants and administrators can agree on is that above everything, Youth for Tomorrow is giving teens a second chance at a better future.

"Everything about the school helps me tap into who I am," 17-year-old Adam says. "I don't care who you are or what you did before you got here...this is a new beginning for you."

For more information, you can go to youthfortomorrow.org.

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