I’m Johnny. I’m a 17-year-old at Penn Tech. I am one of five kids, from my Mom. I have a 21-year-old brother in the Army National Guard, identical twin 18-year-old sisters, and a 15-year-old brother who can sometimes be a lot to handle. Over the past year I’ve moved around A LOT. I grew up in Camden, and then moved to Florida, and now I’m back in Camden for good.
I moved around a lot when I was kid too. My grandmother moved the five of us, and my cousins, in with her, when my mom couldn’t take care of us anymore. She had gotten some drug charges and my grandmother took us in and raised us for many years. Fortunately my mom got help and when she came back around she genuinely wanted to be an active part of our lives, and help us with school, staying out of trouble and doing right. She’s always tried hard to help my brother to take the right path since she went through so much herself and doesn’t want him to do the same thing.
Camden has been all I’ve known for most of my life. As much as I love it, it’s always been really hard to fit in. I never got into smoking or drinking, and had no interest in ditching school. Most of the kids I grew up around, my siblings included, were into those types of things. As tough as this all was, it made me want to be different and make a change in my city and be a positive influence.
LUCY has helped me do just that and so much more. It’s become such an important part of my life because it allows me to meet new youth from different schools and different neighborhoods. I have also been able to learn more about the LGBT community, through that part of the program and all the speakers and events each month. In a lot of ways this helps me to understand and support my sister and friends who are gay. I also love the college trips because it gives me the opportunity to see what is out there in the world after high school.
I’m not sure what my future holds after I graduate but I do know that I want to be able to give back to my grandmother and mom and repay them for all of their love and support. I hope to go to college one day, and when I do I’d like to study video and film production or musical theater. I’d love to film a documentary on LUCY and its youth some day.
Thanks for believing in us and supporting the good that we’re trying to do with our lives.