My name is Jahdiel, and I’m 18 years old. I came to The Child Center of NY on an ACS referral, because I was finding it difficult to speak to people. Having started public school after being home schooled was too overwhelming for me, and I shut down. You go from being one-on-one to one on 30 or 35. It is very hard to engage with everyone. It’s too much to take in.
In 2011, I took a year off from school. When I came back, things were much better. Since I’d had a year to work on my issues, I was able to deal with classrooms and large crowds a lot better.
I have gone to sessions with Rebecca Gannon in the South Jamaica clinic for four years, and she and The Child Center made me into a functioning person. I was like a closed-up turtle before. I lived vicariously through TV. My social skills were nonexistent, but I have slowly been able to progress from intimate conversations to group situations. I’m in 10th grade now, but people don’t seem to notice or care about the age difference.
I still don’t really enjoy big family gatherings, but I’m in a Restorative Justice group at school, and working on outside projects — like planting trees in Battery Park — has enabled me to acclimate myself to social situations and also to be a model for others with similar experience or behaviors. I hadn’t been leaving the house much before, but now, as a peer counselor, I’m counted on — I have to show up. It’s really The Child Center that helped me to help myself and also to be of help to other young people.
A few months ago, when Rebecca moved to South Jamaica from the other Jamaica location, it added at least 30 minutes to my commute time, but I didn’t want to lose this support system. It’s easy to be lazy but not to give up.
She told me she’s proud of me and that the differences in me are “night and day.” I say “night and year.” I’m a new person, but the good thing is I’m also still me. The Child Center is about becoming who you are — embracing yourself, even if you are naturally a sheltered person – and being able to handle your faults.