I graduated from high school in Louisiana, I was the valedictorian of my class. Then my mom and I were in a shelter, so I ran away. That was nine months ago. My mom was on drugs and drinking heavily. I was hospitalized with a concussion, and got charged with assault on a family member. My mom has visited me three times, but I haven’t seen my dad since I was six. There was a lot of physical and mental abuse. My brother goes to school at Lone Star and works two jobs. My mother now lives with him. I also have a 13-year-old sister who is living with a family friend. I stopped going to school for a while because I felt beneath everybody because I lived in a shelter, but then the lady at the YMCA helped me, and now I’m taking my SATs next month. I’m really looking forward to it.

– K.O, age 17, Harrison County Youth Village, Houston, Texas

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