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Donald's Youth of the Year Speech

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Youth of the Year Speech: Donald

Hi my name is Donald I am a senior at Patrick Henry High School. I was born at Fairview Hospital right across from Augsburg College in Minneapolis. I am the 4th youngest person in my family of 13. My mom were married but separated by the time I was 7 years old. Since then my mother has taken on the responsibility of raising me and most of my siblings.

A typical day in my life consists of many different responsibilities. I often am responsible for driving my mother back and forth on her errands. I take her to the doctor to pick up medicine, I take her grocery shopping, and sometimes to Hmong town, which is a shopping center in St. Paul. When I am not helping my mom I am helping my siblings with homework and chores. Sometimes I take them on outings to plays or to the park. I also accompany them to their school conferences where I help translate information about them to my mom.

I help other members of my family as well. Sometimes I baby sit my nieces and nephews. I play games with them, I prepare meals for them, and I bathe them and get them ready for bed.

Even though having these responsibilities can be a challenge and can be stressful I also feel like I benefit from having them. I am more responsible, I have learned patience, and I do it because I care about my family.

I haven’t always felt this way though. I had to learn at a young age what it meant to be this responsible person. When I was 6 my dad had a stroke. It was a really scary experience. One morning my dad wouldn’t wake up so we let him be. We just thought he was tired. He slept all day and we found it kind of strange. The next morning we tried to wake him up but he wouldn’t wake up so we called 911. Soon after we found out he had had a stroke.

After that it got really hard. I was shocked and scared from what happened. After the stroke my dad had to go through physical therapy for 3 months. I helped him through this by doing some of it with him. I helped him around because he was in a wheel chair and I helped him learn to walk again. It was a really long process, but I was glad to help my dad.  Not having my father there I still had to stay strong and help my mom with my brothers and sisters and with her needs also. Eventually my dad moved out and from then on it has just been me, my mom, and my brothers and sisters.

After all these experiences I have become mentally and emotionally stressed. Not always being able to concentrate on school I wanted to find a way to express myself. This is when I found dance and by dance I mean breakin’. I saw a few kids doing it one day and it looked pretty interesting so I started getting into it. Soon I began to do it more often and as I started doing it more and more often, I felt happier and more satisfied and less stressed. Then it became a daily thing and I was able to express myself to others through my dance.

Once I was in high school I was surrounded by more breakers. There was a whole group of us and we used to dance in the lunchroom during lunch because that was the only time and space we had. But that wasn’t enough we wanted to dance more. After school we would meet in hallways, but we would get kicked out and the classrooms were not big enough. So we went to the Club and told the staff what we were trying to do. They gave us a space and brought in a Dancer named Dancin’ Dave and Dave brought in J-Sun.

Having a space to dance at The Club I am able to express myself better. I am comfortable because I am surrounded by my friends and we all have breakin’ in common. We understand the culture and many of us live for that. Having Breakin’ at The Club is important to me because at The Club I can be myself, I can share my knowledge, and learn from others. I learn a lot from our teacher J-Sun. The Patrick Henry Club is diverse and I like that. I like having a space where I can joke around with my friends, listen to music, and teach others and enjoy my passion all at the same time.

I feel welcomed and safe at The Club. The staff is cool and people are friendly. I want to be able to be supported and to be able to count on people to be there, and The Club works to help me with that.

At the Patrick Henry Club staff help me with scholarships and leadership opportunities. This year I am applying to be a mentor in Smart Moves so I can give back.  In the future I hope to serve my community in a bigger way by earning a college degree and sharing my art, style and passion through performing arts and theatre.

Being at The Club has really helped me find myself, to make myself better by giving me a space to vent my stress in a positive way through dance.

My struggles have made me stronger and helped me see the world in a positive light. I am happy and excited about my future and I hope that I can share my passion for self expression and understanding by helping others be able to do the same.

I am Donald.

Thank you for listening.