A Young Man’s Dream

On Saturday, January 25, 2014, Daniel Puder, founder of MLMP, came and spoke to the TAPS group at our orientation at the Juvenile Justice Building. He brought a 17 year old to the training. The young man had gone through My Life My Power and demonstrated the power of the program. We also learned the young man started in TAPS Academy while at Beechnut Academy but was released from Beechnut before completing TAPS Academy. We caught up with him to hear about his life. The young man grew up in the 3rd Ward of Houston, Texas and attended 5 different high schools due to his behavior. His first difficulty with the law was at the age of 10 for possession of marijuana. He was handcuffed, but never arrested, and sent home to the custody of his mother. Today, several years later he is facing a charge of forgery of a $10 bill he obtained at McDonalds in the form of change from his purchase. He is not affiliated with any gangs but did admit that he “represents the area he was raised in.” He does come from a broken home, his father is no longer in the picture, but his mother is. He is 1 of 7 children, being the youngest of the oldest and the oldest of the youngest; his oldest being 22 and the youngest being 3. He stated, “I do not get along with authority.” He was part of TAPS Academy at the Beechnut location but when his time was up, he was removed from the program and never completed it. His incite of the program is that he would have loved to continue with it. He found it very interesting and positive. His hero unfortunately is a 22 year old friend of his, who is incarcerated at present but was around to financially support him when times were rough. His continued challenge he faces is supporting his family and staying out of trouble. His dream is to become a NIKE designer/spokesman/model. As the interview continued, he smiled, and was very personable. His relationship with Puder seems very positive. Puder keeps in touch with the teen and goes out of his way to visit from California, as well as a continuous positive mentor in this teen’s life. Personally if Puder was not in his life his attitude would not be so positive. The young man ended the interview with the statement, “I believe I am what my friends want to be…They are following in my footsteps wherever I go…I now refuse to go back to where I was…I want to be free.” For this young man to have even come to the orientation to represent the positive change he has made in his life was a very big step to inspire others. He opened up to the group, was able to share his story, and kept his smile going throughout the day.

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