A Place to Belong
Before I came to The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club, I struggled figuring out who Jasmine Higgins truly was. Being labeled as a non-reader and having a facial scar, I was bullied quite often. I fell into a deep depression, thoughts of suicide crossed my mind multiple times and I couldn’t understand why this was happening to me. I often thought I was the problem and nothing I ever did was “good enough.”
In it all, I started to lose myself and never felt like I truly belonged anywhere, until I came to the Belmont Avenue Boys & Girls Club. This pivotal moment changed my life forever. The way the Club welcomed me with open arms during those dark times gave me hope, because at that point, I felt my life had taken a turn for the worst. The staff didn’t even know my name but knew I was destined to be someone special. It truly felt like I had a place where I belonged and could call home. The Club taught me not only how to embrace my differences, but to make light out of them.
Through the many programs and opportunities they offered like financial literacy, emotional wellness and healthy habits, that taught me how to better my future. The Club is a place that set me up to be someone in this world. It steered me from going down a path that wasn't meant for me. The Club was not only there for me as a young kid, but the staff has also continued to be here for me as a young adult. With the recent divorce of my parents, they have circled around me and helped me work out my feelings. They have always pushed me to become the best version of myself and for that I will forever be grateful.
I started going to the club at the age of 7 and now I am 17 and flourishing. I have a 4.3 GPA, as well as being actively a part of 6 different academic clubs, 3 in which being honors. The Boys & Girls Club helped me become a role model in my community. The lessons they taught me I now use as a certified lifeguard.
Ever since a young age, I’ve always enjoyed playing sports and helping others which sparked my interest in Sports Medicine. Research shows that roughly 36% of African American females actually get a college degree and out of that, only 10% go into athletic training. Currently there are just 21 women working in the NFL. Being a double minority and knowing these statistics, my drive expanded to grow these numbers immensely. I want to break the stereotypes many people put on women of color like me.
One of the most important lessons that I am grateful for is helping me find my purpose in life all while keeping God first. I am a proud Club kid – a product of what happens when you pour into the youth. I am here to be an example to others that they have a chance. It’s all about what you make out of your situation regardless of your past.
Jasmine Higgins is the 2023 Youth of the Year for The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Charlotte and The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of North Carolina.