For the fourth and final episode of the series, AL DÍA delves into the cycle of gun violence Black and Latino youth fall into that is fostered by Philly’s poor education system and marginalized economy.
Many Philly youth feel without options regarding the future however another option some can find success in is in the trades. Sylvia Ocasio is the Program Manager of Project WOW at JEVS Human Services. There Philadelphia youth obtain their GEDS and can get certified in any number of building trades to start their careers.
“We give young adults ages 18 to 24 an opportunity to come back to school to obtain a high school diploma but to also learn a skill in the trades,” said Ocasio. “What they want to leave behind is failure. What they want to leave behind is what didn’t work. What they want to leave behind is that their lives weren’t working because they didn’t do what they were supposed to do to succeed.”
“That’s the kitchenette for employee at play lounge actually.” One of those young people who wanted to leave their lives behind was Wilson. Caught in the cycle Philly’s poor education system and job market until he found purpose and Project WOW.
“After I got locked up I’m just like what am I gonna do, you know? And that’s why I decided to go to my GED program you know I need to develop some type of skills because I can’t make it out here you know as a felon. I was on house arrest so I was very limited on what I could do and I was just a lost kid. So you know finding a project where I kind of changed my life and I don’t got to turn to the streets for nothing. So that’s what the problem is a lot of the kids they have no skills to do anything so they turn to the streets and you know the streets drag you in and once you’re in the streets it’s hard to get out. I give up all the money in the street right now to do what I do now you know what I mean. I don’t care about nothing like that anymore it’s a totally different ball game now because you know I got kids to live for and I learned that the hard way you know. I proved them right, so now at the end of the day I’m sitting here in a jail cell by myself nobody to back me you know what I’m saying. When in reality all I needed was myself to believe in myself.”
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