Tough as Nails?

Posted on by Bonnie Rodriguez

Every month, I get to spend time with the Project Dade crew – 10-15 boys who are on probation and choose to come to our life skills classes.  Ronnie, Angel, Greg, Dimitri, and Peterson work with these young men, helping them get jobs, gain confidence, and build skills for resisting peer pressure, choosing forgiveness, and living with integrity.

They are a fun bunch – ostentatiously honest, brutally funny, and playful as all get-out – and 90% of the time, they are determined to appear tough as nails.

This year, Angel secured permission from parents and PO’s (parole officers) for the young men to come rappel, and thanks to our corporate sponsors, it was possible!  Ronnie & Angel chose boys who have been consistent in or even completed the Project Dade program.

The young men showed up with their normal level of swagger and toughness.  “Are you scared?” I asked one.

“Naw,” he said, shaking his head.

It was a different story at the top of the building, though.  These young men shouted, screamed, and sweated with fear as they dangled over the 10-story Keyes building.  Their mentors stood by and even rappelled down with them.  And when their feet hit the ground, over 50 onlookers celebrated and cheered!

Our tagline for Over the Edge is “Stop Youth Violence.”  Many people might think we stop violence by removing kids from society, where they can do harm.  But at YFC, we believe violence stops when kids encounter the God who created them.  When that happens, they drop any façade of “toughness” or “cool,” and they begin to transform into the person God made them to be.  And this can start when someone gives you the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and be totally vulnerable – maybe, say, by jumping off a building?

We are grateful to our sponsors, rappellers, and donors who are giving YFC the opportunity to give life to the stories of our Project Dade youth.  Thank you!

Johanna Ralsten-Cox

Ministries Director

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