Diquan Olive and Jahleta Henry are award recipients for Frederick Dryden’s Perseverance Award and Overcomer’s Award Respectively.
Diquan & Jahleta are volunteers at our centre and we are so proud of them.
About The Winners:
Jahleta Henry is a young, African-Canadian teenager, who has managed to overcome almost every obstacle that has been placed in her way. She was raised and currently lives in a notorious community, in the Jane Street—Wilson Avenue area, in which all of the vices of life are regularly displayed, but infrequently avoided. It is a community that has had its share of police involvement and the attitude of the residents has been less than desirable. Jahleta herself emerged with a very skewed sense of what her world ought to look like and so emerged a general dislike for the police and all that they stood for.
From a fairly early young age, she was involved with many forms of petty crime and found herself squarely on the wrong side of the law. Without strong parenting and a feeling of belonging, she drifted in and out of trouble, almost with an anticipated end. It was through happenstance that she encountered the Believe To Achieve program and has made remarkable progress ever since.
Jahleta, a girl who could never be trusted to be anything but troublesome, is now an active and valuable member of the Believe To Achieve team. Although she continues to experience difficulties at home, to the extent that she sometimes terms it as a place to simply lay her head, she walks boldly into the Believe To Achieve centre and that is where her magic begins. Aside from trying to navigate a different way of relating to her community, Jahleta participates in every activity presented before her
with a quick-witted temperament and a strong sense of pride. She has become more than just a leader to the children she cares for; she is a big sister and a person upon whom they can rely to offer good advice. She is honest about her struggles with anger and identity, both of which were impediments to her natural maturation. She is generous with her admonitions about not performing well in school because that has been one of the only ways that she has felt that her efforts have been appreciated. Jahleta is a complicated young woman, with capabilities beyond what even she can imagine, but the person that she has become and is becoming is one which far exceeds the artificial barriers that prevent personal fulfillment. She has fashioned herself into the kind of person that people listen to when she speaks because she reflects a changing attitude about struggle and all that seems to follow it. She has exceeded all expectations and is now carefully planning her next successful chapter. Jahleta Henry has not only overcome the limitations of her background; she has surpassed them and brought dozens of children with her.
DIQUAN Olive, a young man of African-Canadian origins, is a prime example of “perseverance,” in every sense of the word. He was raised in the Jane Street—Wilson Avenue area, at a time when the general neighbourhood consisted of working to upper middle-class residents and a small but devoted group of drug dealers, child traffickers and prostitutes, who littered the landscape on a daily basis. A vocally-repressed and shy young man, he was at the mercy of heartless, delinquent, neighbourhood boys, who presented a cohesive alternative to difficulties within his family. At some point during that time, he chose to become a member of a local neighbourhood gang because he believed that it would provide for him, peace of mind and what he deemed his own physical protection. Within a short period time DIQUAN became involved in a number of petty crimes, which would eventually bring him from the school room to the interrogation room and to a not-so-well-deserved criminal record. He had become all that he despised and was even unhappy than he had been before. A dramatic change in his life was needed and it would come from a very unexpected place.
DIQUAN began as a volunteer with the Believe To Achieve afterschool programme, in which children from six years onwards are provided with the academic assistance, emotional stability and cultural enhancement necessary to develop in a healthy way, but his was not an easy integration. The children could not understand why he spoke so little and the youngest were more than disrespectful, on a regular basis. Despite these new challenges, DIQUAN was learning a lot of new things: about how to deal with people in an effective manner and how to negotiate a world in which there is very little room for you. Before long, he began the simple act of vocalizing his expectations — both for them as for himself – and with that, he began to resume his social maturation.
DIQUAN is now a young man, still of few words, who has become a valued employee of the Believe To Achieve Team. He has managed to do what most people cannot: distance himself from his former associates, while remaining a positive and active voice amongst his peers. It is his intention to return to school to complete his education and with that, he aspires to a life of normalcy and upward mobility. His life, though an amalgam of many stories, represents victory with every single success and obstacle overcome. DIQUAN, in his present manifestation, has beaten all of the odds against him through his service and devotion to others, reminding us all how interconnected we are and that selfless actions are always rewarded.