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120 Years, 120 Stories: Sydnee’s Story

By YWCA of Minneapolis
January 3, 2012
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Youth shares her story and opinions with legislators

Sydnee attended the 2011 Rally for Youth Day at the Capitol and shared her story and opinion with legislators, adovcates and her peers.

I come from a family of three brothers and two sisters, a single mother trying her best to keep the family together and a dad that is nowhere to be found. Growing up wasn’t easy for me. I did a lot of things no young child should have, and seen things no child should ever see. I put myself in situations that I wasn’t always sure I could get out of.

It started off in fifth grade, when I wanted to be that girl” so bad — the one everybody was cool with, always wanted to hang out with, the popular one. Yeah, I got to that point, but I had to change the real me to become someone I was not. I started hanging with older kids, lying, cheating, failing school. I was so influenced by the wrong things that I had forgotten what was right. I had to learn the hard way from my mistakes. I was placed in JDC at the age of 12. I had lost all my real friends, only to hang around the fake ones who weren’t going to always have my back. They were just were my partners in crime. I was acting out in school as well and ended up getting expelled.

My behavior started to catch up to me, and I was put on probation. If it wasn’t for probation I don’t think I would be where I am today — standing here, telling you my story and trying to influence all the other young women out there who haven’t tried to take that first step to recovery just yet. I understand that some of us just aren’t ready for C-H-A-N-G-E, a “four-letter” word that sounds so little but can mean so much. The advice that I want to give to my peers is to get involved. When I was required to go to the YWCA, I had this attitude like, ‘I don’t want to be here, and who are these people?’ It was a ten-week program, and we met twice a week. After the first month, we were like family. The RAP program gave me hope, courage, and potential to achieve, accomplish and become my own person. Showed me positivity and that, with a good attitude and positive people, I could accomplish so many things. The support was so amazing, I can’t thank them enough.

They always had high expectations for me; saw things in me I didn’t see in myself. From the bottom of my heart the RAP program, was another home for me, instead of being out there in the streets. I thank God for letting me be able to go and experience that there are people out there that want to help you, I also can say I can’t take all the credit for being so successful like I am now. The RAP program has given me opportunities to get a job as a RAP Youth Staff, help me for college I could go on and on, but furthermore the RAP program was the turning point of it all and I look forward to going to graduate group every Thursday.

They say that young African-Americans are the first to drop out, commit crimes, go to jail, to have fatherless children. Women trying to raise men alone, drug dealers, raising of teen moms, STDs, less likely to graduate and [more likely to] be on welfare. Well I — a young African-American woman by the name of Sydnee Brown, refuse to be part of these statistics. That is why I am encouraging my young women — not just black — to stand up and become more than what they set us out to be. Lawyers, doctors, dentists, CEOs, physicians, legislators, and even the president!

I don’t know about you, but I know I can be anything and everything I want to be. Like Malcolm X once stated, “You have to do what you need to do in order to do what you want to do.” I know we can’t do this alone, and that is why I speak to our parents, guardians, elders, pastors, and people in our community to help us be much more and do much better. That is why I feel we need more youth groups like Girls RAP to help develop an “upcoming” of something huge! Like how I hope my speech today impacts the crowd. Because I know I am the future and graduate group of 2015!