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Story aired on Tuesday, August 21, 2018.
“When I was eleven years old my dad passed away unexpectedly. My mom woke me up that night and broke the news to me. At first I thought it was a dream until my mom drove me to see him.
He was laying down with a tube shoved down his throat. I couldn’t even look at him. I cried for hours and hours. When we went to his house to gather his stuff it was really hard for me. I never got to say goodbye to him, never said I love him.
When I went to his funeral I didn’t want no hugs from nobody. I didn’t want anyone to touch me. In fact I was very mean. I started to do things that got me into trouble. I didn’t care about anything or anyone.
When I was twelve and a half I went to Residential Treatment Center and met Miss Liz. She was and still is a fun outgoing person. Girls With Sole has taught me to live life to the fullest. Living life to the fullest means to always look at the bright side of things. No matter what don’t look back. We keep moving forward and learn our strength.
Miss Liz taught me to look ahead because going back is not the way I should be going. Miss Liz and Girls With Sole taught me that when I’m hurting I need to observe because life is trying to teach me something. When I’m feeling down I need to pay attention, and that everything happens for a reason.
She taught me that there is always something to be grateful for. It doesn’t have to be a person. It could be a place, something we can do, or an object, nature or a goal. Miss Liz taught me that only I change my mood. There was a quote in one of our activities that said, “You are the painter of your own mood. Your days are only as grey as you allow them to be.” This quote really stood out to me. Not just because it’s so true, but because it’s a life lesson.
Only I can make me mad. Not others. Girls With Sole also taught me that the only limit is myself. If i want to do something I am the only one who can accomplish it. Although Girls With Sole taught me so much, these are the main things.
Thank you for helping me see my own strength.”
– Jaleesha, Age 14
I used to be afraid. I used to be afraid of what people would think, of what I would see when I looked in the mirror, of what I had to go home to and what I might find when I got there. In fact, I used to be so afraid to go home, that when I finally psyched myself up to put the key in the door, I’d turn around and run before my conscience told me to go back.
You may be thinking, “Mandi, running from your fears is cowardly and unrealistic.”
That’s what my counselor told me. She also told me that refusing to face reality is called “being delusional.”
I called it having a Superpower. I fail to see the difference. When life sucks real bad, I could just leave whenever I wanted, like a magic trick, “wanna see me disappear?” Don’t ask, I’ll do it anyways to save you the trouble. Poof! I’m gone.
So, I bet you’re wondering where I went when I ran from my fears. Well, I can tell you what places I didn’t go: the library, school, my grandmother’s, Joe’s Crabshack, the grocery store, on a pilgrimage. Long story short, I didn’t go anywhere innocent or family oriented.
My family was too high to care where I went or what I did. Then, I discovered drugs and had a new way to escape reality. I didn’t even have to leave my house! Then on one fateful evening, I was arrested. My family relinquished custody of me and I was getting released to a foster family. My life spun out of control when I got out. I had a crazy, weird new family. New school, and eventually new drugs. My addiction finally came to the light and things got bad again. My foster family decided to move to Minnesota and I was truly alone. I went to a group home and two weeks later I came to RTC. Later in the day when I got here, they told me to put on my own clothes for working out and I thought, “great, we’re gonna be doing military drills or something, I just know it!”
We went down to the gym and I was instantly greeted by Ms. Liz, my first thought was,”who is this crazy hyper pixie lady?” but it turns out that Ms. Liz isn’t just some pixie lady who shows up to work us out.
It reality, she’s my Fairy God Mother. She took my shoe size and bra size and I was instantly amazed by the amount of generosity a single woman can possess.
Over the past 6 months, Ms. Liz has done so much for me and every other girl here at RTC. She helped me shed my skin and learn to fly. Even after all of the adversity I’ve been through, she has helped me turn into a beautiful butterfly. Ms. Liz has inspired me to turn my life into something better. I’ve seen the future, but through someone else’s eyes. I’ve stepped through the looking glass and seen an alternate path. I’m so grateful and lucky to have the opportunity to meet Ms. Liz and participate in Girls With Sole. I know what I could be. I’ve seen, what others have seen, and I am no longer ashamed of what the future holds.
I AM NO LONGER AFRAID.
-Mandi, GWS Participant, Age 16
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