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My name is Chris Head and I am 17 years old. I have been going to the East Oakland Youth Development Center since I was eight years old. The first time I went to the EOYDC, my mother Bernida Reagan, dropped me off for the summer program. As a child, I was very shy and did not get along with other kids my age. My mom said the program would help me make friends, not to mention be fun with Regina Jackson the executive director of the center. Ms. Regina was the only person I knew coming into the program because she has been a family friend since I was born, (this is why I call her my aunt Regina). The summer program that year was fun like my mom said. I made friends that I still know today. I learned how to deal with pressure, how to organize a schedule and how to be more responsible for my actions. The program helped me mature at the young age of eight years old. It was exciting because after that first program, I wanted to be a part of the center for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, for me, I would not return to the summer program as a kid because I had to go to other summer programs for my school because of bad behavior grades I received in grammar school.
Ever since the summer program, I would go back to the center’s after school program to play with my friends, do my homework, or be involved with the daily activities of the center; computer class, art class, sometimes Spanish, and many more. One day, when I was ten or eleven I went into the gym to watch the kids play basketball. At that age I was not good at basketball at all. I had an unorthodox shot, I was not fast and I did not understand the game. In fact, the only thing I did real well was dribble. So when the kids asked me to play I was nervous. I ended up playing well, and every time I came back to play I improved in some aspect of the game. As a result, I have played in the Gary Payton tournaments ever since they started. EOYDC helped my basketball career get to where it is and next year I will be attending Hampton University as a walk on, and I plan to red shirt so I will have four years of eligibility left after my freshman year. If I handle my business, I will also be high jumping for the track and field as a walk on my first year.
I mentioned earlier that I couldn’t go back to EOYDC’S summer program in my elementary years because of my behavior and grades. My next appearance in the summer program would be working as a youth leader which was a great experience also. This was another time where I was nervous and did not know what to expect. The first day of orientation I met some new people some people I already knew were working there also. It was an enriching experiment working with Jessica Reed and Janiece Clark. I learned how to work with kids ages 6-14; the kids and I got along great. We shared experiences, a lot of laughs, and a strong bond. I recommend that youth at the ages of 15-19 try to obtain a position as a youth leader because it really is a great experience. I also met one of my good friends there Jasmine Williams, who helped me get through a tough senior year of high school. There are great people like this at EOYDC that make it what it is. EOYDC has helped me stay out of trouble and a troubling life that many of my friends have been drawn into living in East Oakland. I am proud of this community, and EOYDC makes it a better place to live in. I would like to thank the EOYDC community for helping me become the young mature man I am today.