In 2004, two mothers who witnessed firsthand the devastating toll destructive behaviors has on kids founded Journey to Dream, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Their efforts to harness the power of positive peer pressure and use methods relevant to youth culture, like hip hop music and media, proved effective in reaching young people. Programs empower students to use their life experiences and voices to positively influence other students to live free from destructive behaviors like alcohol and drug abuse, cutting, bullying, dating violence, and suicide. Since 2004, Journey to Dream have positively impacted over 30,000 lives.
How do we identify hurting kids? Unfortunately, “at-risk” kids (those from divorced or single parent homes, kids enduring abuse or addiction in the home, or kids living in low-income situations) define many kids today. Hurting kids don’t just live in low-income communities. Addiction and pain, death or illness, divorce, job loss hit every family, in every neighborhood. It’s rare not to sit and talk to a teen in any community or school for long without hearing about their stressful, even painful, lives.
We have kids come up after assemblies or presentations asking how they can get involved or start a program like Journey to Dream on their campus; we survey students after performances and identify those needing a support group or interested in starting a prevention team; and many students come by word of mouth or because a friend or teacher suggests the group.
At the end of the day, programs simply work by helping young people understand and like themselves (just the way God made them), as well as provide education and life skills that improve their ability to better care for and protect themselves. Programs and curriculum are continually evaluated by obtaining student, teacher and often parent feedback.
Program success is credited to:
- Peer to peer education, offered through mediums that appeal to students,
- Providing a safe haven, where hurting teens are encouraged and accepted,
- Allowing young people to use their voice to positively impact their generation,
- Having a staff and volunteers that love like Jesus, even in environments he isn’t mentioned.
Our prayer is help every hurting kid overcome adversity and achieve their dream. The Journey to Dream Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.