Service Array:
Individual Skill Development and Enhancement

Growing up in a small, rural Wisconsin town, there were not a lot of opportunities or outlets for support when my parents divorced. I developed behavioral issues, experienced outbursts at school, and ran away from home shortly after I turned fifteen. Shortly after, I was incarcerated.

As a child, I loved the outdoors. Playing sports and being outside was a necessity for me. I had a lot of physical energy and found that my body and mind felt healthier when I was active. So, when being outside and playing sports was no longer an option for me while incarcerated, I had to find other healthy coping mechanisms.

Thankfully, I found my way to books and reading. As a child, my reading level lagged, so I intentionally worked on increasing literacy so I could enjoy literature more. By losing myself in someone else’s story, I also found myself. I found a way out of the chaos and loneliness I felt as a child and found a way into narrative structure and community. I searched high and low for myself in these books, and in the meantime, I found more empathy and connection for other people. Reading gave me an increased love of humanity and provided a healthy outlet for healing.

While incarcerated, I began speaking with other teens and underserved youth through programs like NCLI and H.O.P.E. (Helping Others Through Preventative Education). Speaking to other youth was spiritually uplifting. By sharing my story and listening to theirs, I realized most people simply need to be heard. Once that happens, they are more open to hearing what tools and opportunities are available to them to become more self-directed and self-actualized. I didn’t realize the resources that were available to me when I was a teenager, so now, I am committed to helping others find what they need to make healthy choices and thrive.