Sir Carlos is a Youth Member and SOAR Scholar at Detroit Phoenix Center who found out about the program through a referral. After attending the SOAR After School Enrichment Program a few times, he said he didn’t want to be anywhere else after school and wanted to keep going there because of how hands-on the staff is with their guidance in schoolwork and because he had a lot of fun with the other youth as well.
“They’re very interactive”, he said about the program staff, “If you’re struggling with something and ask for help, they’ll give you a guided lesson and answer any questions you have. Then they’ll give you a small test to help make sure you remembered it and go from there.”
In the SOAR Program, he enjoys gaming, theater, study time, and painting. He said that theater is his favorite because he gets to use not only his imagination but also everyone else’s around him. He likes how interactive it is and how everyone leans on each other to make it a creative safe space.
Sir Carlos spoke about how he struggled with depression last year and said, “When I told Miss Courtney that I was struggling, she sat down with me and talked with me. She has been checking on me and helping me work on myself ever since. That really makes me feel a lot better.“
When speaking on the SOAR program, he said “To me, it feels like a detoxification every time I go there—like it’s a place I can calm down, take a break, hang around with people I feel comfortable with. It’s like a second family.”
This year, through our partnership with Deeply Rooted Enterprises, youth in the program learned about gardening and food justice. Sir Carlos said that he had a lot of fun learning how to plant basil and that caring for his plant is therapeutic and he always looks forward to seeing how it has grown.
“The SOAR Program has helped me through a lot. It helped me through school, mental and physical health challenges, and they even got me a gift to spread my passion—music.”
Since Sir Carlos received a guitar from DPC, he said that he struggles less with depression because learning his favorite songs and writing his own songs helps to keep his spirits high. He and his friends even started a band and are writing their own songs together.
Sir Carlos said that he would like to play music professionally in the future and hopes he can make enough money with it to give back to Detroit Phoenix Center and the community in bigger ways.
The teenage youth member said, “If I ever made a lot of money myself, I would want to give most of it back to the community… I would donate to schools, educational programs, neighborhoods, and to the homeless. I just want to give back however I can because I hate seeing my community the way it is.”
After high school, Sir Carlos plans to go to college here in Detroit and says he wants to stay here and invest in his hometown. Even after he transitions out of DPC’s program, he would like to come back and provide music activities for the youth in the program.
He said, “Music is such a source of happiness for me and I want the younger generations after me to find their happiness the way that I did at DPC as well.”