Every Saturday, I would drop off Akyrah and three other students to the STL | LIFT Skills Center. The Skills Center is a new addition to the STL | LIFT program this summer and Akyrah is the only student out of the four who is a girl.
Even though I had been driving her for weeks now, it was late into the summer when I first had a conversation with Akyrah. It was just us two in the car and we were on our way back from the Skills Center to the gardens. The light at Kingshighway and Martin Luther King Dr. had went out and we both began to complain and laugh at the same time about people's poor driving skills.
I tell her I absolutely hate driving and she looks thrown. I talk about the responsibility and stress of owning and driving a car, but also how the freedom that comes with it is worth the exchange. She is more than ready to drive and talks with me about the cars she's been in, the car she wants, and the places she'd go.
This puts us on the topic of traveling and I discover that she has been to Washington D.C. as a perk of being in the honor society at her school which, side note, is a lot of hard work and very impressive. I was not surprised however. These students are absolutely brilliant.
She shares with me her aspirations for attending Howard University as we park and walk toward garden two. The opportunity she received through the honor society to go to Washington D.C. ended up inspiring her to attend a university that is 13 hours away!
What I love about the STL | LIFT program are the empowered experiences. After the students work in the garden, they go outside of the city to experience something they've likely never experienced before. This allows for inspiration to reach them that would have otherwise missed them. Take the yoga empowered experience for example. Pictured below is Akyrah at the Apostles Community Center for the yoga empowered experience.
While many of the students didn’t connect with it, some did. And it was still a new experience that allowed them to open their minds to new things and expand heir horizons, just like traveling did for Akyrah.