How Powerful I Can Be
Ricki R. is a high schooler, crocheter and avid reader who dreams of becoming a pediatrician or lawyer. She has been a participant in YWCA Minneapolis Resolution and Prevention (RAP) program since she was 13 years old. RAP is an intervention program that works with girls ages 12 through 18, who are involved or at risk of becoming involved in the juvenile justice system. Program participants resolve their offense and stay out of the juvenile justice system permanently by building skills and motivation for positive life choices. Below, Ricki shares her story.
Today, I can tell you that my favorite things to do are to read, listen to music, hang out with my friends, eat mac and cheese and sleep. I really like to work too, because I like how good it feels to be productive.
Before I was involved in YWCA’s Girls RAP program, my life was a lot different. I was skipping school. I was getting into stupid stuff and had a bad attitude. I was rude to people because I never felt safe around new people. I didn’t like people to tell me what to do or give me advice. Things were not good.
But a counselor referred me to the Girls RAP program at YWCA Minneapolis. At first, I didn’t want to go, because I thought it would be people talking at me and telling me I shouldn’t do this and I shouldn’t do that.
I thought I was going to meet with a counselor, but when I got there, I wasn’t alone. I was with a group of girls. I didn’t like interacting with other teenage girls. Growing up, you’re taught girls are your enemy because you need to be prettier or better. I thought girls were catty and full of drama and I just didn’t have time for that.
After a few sessions, I realized the girls weren’t bad at all. We had more in common than I thought we would. I heard their stories and they were like mine – they got caught up in stupid stuff and wanted to change. They weren’t judgmental. It was like we were all there for a reason – we were there to grow and learn together.
We got together with the staff and talked about things like sexual health and financial planning. And we talked about good influences and bad influences in life. It felt just like a group of friends hanging out, reflecting on our lives and giving each other advice. It was amazing.
The staff made me feel comfortable right away. They were always very respectful and made me feel welcome. They treated me like I was a person, not a child. They treated me like I was their equal. If I ever needed help with schoolwork or anything, I knew that I could go there, and the staff would help me. This program helped me build relationships and made me feel like people actually cared. This program gave me a support system.
One thing I always talk about is the time when the women from the Shakopee Prison came to talk to our group. There was one lady who was a prisoner and shared her story, which was similar to mine when she was young. It just really made me see that life can change in the blink of an eye, and you could be in the wrong place with the wrong people, and that could cost you your life. That was something that really stood out to me, and made me realize I wanted a better life.
The Girls RAP Program has really helped me see clearly and make better decisions so that I can have a better life. I got my attendance up and am doing better in school. I even started taking classes at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, which helped prepare me for what college will be like.
College is what I am looking forward to most. I want to go to a university, a four-year school. I want to get involved, be in clubs and have that full college experience. My plan is to be a pediatrician or a lawyer.
In the past few years, as part of this program, I learned a lot of things. I learned I can make my own decisions. I learned nobody can influence me to do anything I don’t want to do. It changed the way I think about myself and all the things I can do. In fact, if I were to really put myself to it, I know now I can do anything. The support of someone caring about me made me feel powerful. Through the Girls RAP Program at YWCA Minneapolis, I learned how strong I already am, and how powerful I can be.