As you probably know, Deputy Mayor Dwaine Caraway took more than 150 kids on the road on Saturday. It was literally a 24-hour trip, and it was worth it.
With the help of many on city staff, chaperons, and some generous individuals, the kids were able to visit Houston and Galveston. The cost to the kids: nothing.
We left in the wee hours on Saturday, six buses deep, headed for the NASA Space Center.
We took the tram and did a full tour of the Space Center. Afterwards we got lunch then headed to Galveston to check out Moody Gardens, a Gaylord Texan-like center with a lot of different things going on. We went through the aquarium and the rain forest. We also stopped to eat before heading to the campus of Texas Southern. We had to cut our time short, but we promised the parents to get the kids back to Dallas within a certain time frame.
Any trip will have some glitches, but this was a very successful trip. I knew that I would not have "fun" on the trip, and I didn't desire to because it was all about the kids having a great time.
My Fave Five
The one thing that worked well was keeping my group together. I called my group my "Fave Five," like the T-mobile commercial. One, because I knew they would remember that. I was proud as they huddled up like an NBA team and talked about what they would do next. And I love the fact that they took pictures of everything (free disposable cameras were provided so the kids could take pictures).
There were tons of kids at Moody Gardens (some on our trip and some not). I am so proud of my Fave Five for looking out for each other. I am awed by the kids' questions, their curiosity, and their level of appreciation. Tony, John, Angel, Malik, and Dominique are five young men that will stay in my heart for a long time.
Janet Morrison's camera is way better than mine, so I "borrowed" a couple of her photos for this post.
The Naysayers and Haters
What I didn't understand (and still don't) that thought that this trip was some sort of publicity ploy. They ask questions like, "what can be accomplished by a one-day trip?" People like that, I can't listen to anymore.
What kind of goal can a kid desire after this one-day trip? A goal to go out of town to college...a goal to be a part of the NASA space program or pursue interests in science that they never knew they had. I'm living proof that such programs, which may seem innocuous on the surface, can pique interests in youth than can change their lives. Life is doubly hard for kids that want to "make it."
How many of my childhood friends do I have that are dead or in jail because no one gave a darn enough to talk to them or take them out of our 'hood before they took a risk that ended their lives? Too many to count; that's what is trying to be avoided. Many of these kids have been to multiple teen summits and I have watched them grow. One kid on our bus keeps his report card folded up in his wallet and was proud to show off his straight A's and B's. He told me he wanted to go to Morehouse, a wise choice!
No one person has the answer, and in reality all hands are needed on deck with the challenges that are being faced by today's youth.
I will never forget this trip, and I will never forget about these kids. I hope to watch them continue to flourish and become the leaders that I know they can become.
Vanessa (one of the kids from the trip) and Janet put together a online photo/music album. Check it out: