GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Jamariona Jackson-Sterling of Grand Rapids sits at her desk and focuses on her school work.
She is determined to keep her past from dictating her future.
“I used to fight in bathrooms and stuff and didn’t care,” Jackson-Sterling said. “The rage came from my dad not being home.”
In class, Jackson-Sterling carried the weight of having a dad in prison and living on a street riddled with violence.
“That’s where a lot of shootings happen,” she said.
While that weight gave Jackson-Sterling every reason to fail, the Boys & Girls Club gave her every reason to succeed.
“She’s the epitome of what it is that we can do,” said Patrick Placzkowski, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth.
The Boys & Girls Club gave the 17-year-old a safe space to dance and to teach other young ones how to move.
It’s a way for her to escape reality or as Placzkowski puts it, a way for her to influence other children around her.
“She leads and she sees herself as a role model to younger kids at the club and to her younger siblings,” Placzkowski said.
Placzkowski said the club not only fosters an environment of leadership but an environment of continuous improvement.
“We are there to help build up their character, self-love, determination and self-discipline,” Placzkowski said.
It takes a village to raise a child or in some cases, change them.
“If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be the person I am today,” Jackson-Sterling said.
When she finishes school, she’ll head to Memphis, Tennessee. She plans to enroll in Paul Mitchell Hair School with dreams of becoming a hairstylist.