A plea for troubled inner-city youth
In a recent opinion piece, columnist Helen Ubiñas provides a moving account of two 14 year-olds whose lives played out differently in the challenging conditions of Philadelphia.
Donavin Caminero, a formerly troubled youth, was walking home with his mother, Jennifer Martínez, and his mentor, attorney Daniel La Luz, after attending his first Sixers game on March 29th. It sounded like a great day.
In the same night, another 14 year-old boy was shot to death and left bleeding in the streets of West Philadelphia.
"If that doesn't illustrate what's at stake for Philadelphia's children, I don't know what does: One night. Two 14-year-olds. And the sometimes razor-thin line between a young boy being able to act like a boy and another being gunned down on a city street,” Ubiñas writes.
Caminero’s tale might have ended differently had it not been for a support system that rallied around him after his mother — who was convicted of drug charges— joined the Supervision To Aid Reentry (STAR) program.
At the core of Ms. Ubiñas’ piece is the urgency with which society must take an active role in offering mentorship, guidance and support to youth that, faced with adverse conditions, will easily go astray.
“Talk to that kid on the edge, talk to the knucklehead on the corner,” she writes. “Show them that we care what happens to them, that we want them to be kids, going to school or enjoying a game, not fighting for their lives on our streets.”