Tough Choices in Delta: Jer, RC and AJ's Story
When we sat down with Jer, AJ and RC, they were in the middle of doing a book study on Joe’s new book: To Hell and Back.
Jer, AJ and RC are high school students at Changes - an alternative education program in North Delta. They are also regulars at Yo Bro | Yo Girl Youth Initiative’s new programs in their community.
“What I’ve learned from reading Joe’s book is not to get involved with gang life,” AJ says.
The lesson seems simple enough, until you realize that it has a direct impact on these three teenagers’ daily lives.
“Everyone knows someone who is involved with a gang here in Delta,” AJ explains.
“It’s true,” Jer says quietly. “I had grown up watching my parents be caught up in gang life - I remember my dad getting shot at. A few years ago, I started getting more involved with gangs myself.”
“From the outside you think it’s going to be so fun - what you don’t realize is that you’re going to do bad things and you’re going to get caught,” AJ explains. “Everyone thinks they’ll be the one who doesn’t get caught. I didn’t think I would get caught, but I did -- everyone does. It got me thinking, why do I want to do this? Do I really want to spend half of my life in jail?”
Earlier this year, Yo Bro | Yo Girl launched after school programs in Delta. In three schools, we’ve had over 100 students show up - in search of something to do and a place to belong.
“I like YBYG because at the start of every session, Joe or Brandon shares a bit of their story,” RC says. “I listen because they’ve been where I am, they’ve faced the same challenges, and they’ve come out the other side. So, when they say that I should stay in school, I’ll do it. When they say to not get involved with gangs, I know they mean it. And when they say that I belong here at Yo Bro, I believe them.”
“I knew at a certain point that if I wanted my life to be good and if I wanted a future, I was going to have to change,” Jer shares about his time in a gang. “I found a way to make that change through Yo Bro.”