The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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Congratulations Winners! #122
What Do You Regret? How Would You Do It Differently?
Writing Contest Winners

1st Prize $150 winner + $200 “wish certificate” from One Simple Wish
Getting and Staying Clean

In October 2013, a transport vehicle arrived at Placerville Juvenile Hall to take me to yet another rehab. My mother was downstairs in the courtroom awaiting dismissal of her longstanding Child Protective Services case. She and I had a plan.

I started doing methamphetamine when I was 13, and I couldn’t put it down. I was always asked if my mother was using and I always had her back because “snitches get stitches” where I grew up. I have probably spent about three weeks in traditional high school; most of my schooling was within the walls of juvenile hall. I usually got locked up for drugs, anger, or running away from my placement.

Fifteen minutes into the drive from Juvenile Hall, I told the two transporters, “I have to pee.” They had to stop, and I ran. I avoided the cops looking for me and hitchhiked to a friend’s house, where my mom picked me up. We went together to buy drugs, and back at her apartment, we did our first line of dope together. Then she told me I couldn’t stay, and I was on the run for the next eight or nine weeks. My relationship with meth became more intimate. The cops found me on Christmas Eve.

A juvenile treatment center in South Lake Tahoe was my next stop. During my time there, I caught up with school. I learned that I am in control of my happiness. To be happy I needed to break up with crystal, control my anger, and move on.

I wish I hadn’t run from the transport vehicle. I’d be done with high school. I wouldn’t have gotten high with my mother. I would have been five months further along in my sobriety. When I look back, I see so much anger, pain, and hate, but I made them all worse by choosing to get high. I have not touched crystal in almost a year.

S.T., 17
Placerville, CA

2nd Prize $100 winner + $100 “wish certificate” from One Simple Wish
Thank You, Maybe Next Year

I regret the way I responded when I got terminated from a training program I really fought to be in. Instead of viewing the positive, I viewed all the negative. I let down people who were only trying to help me. I was so upset and angry that I didn’t take responsibility for my own actions. If I could go back I would have responded differently. This is what I would have said instead:

“Thanks to all of you who have taught me valuable skills. Due to many issues I was facing I couldn’t attend certain sessions, and I understand the rules. However I am grateful to still have support from all of you. I will take what I learn and use it in my everyday life. I’m grateful to have met you guys and been part of this. I know this year wasn’t my best, but I still have a chance to be part of this training program next cycle. Thanks for all the help and lessons you guys have taught. Can’t wait to try this again next year. I will be more prepared and determined than ever.”

Lalisbeth Soto, 21
Bronx, NY

3rd Prize $50 winner + $50 “wish certificate” from One Simple Wish
A Scar That Looks Like a Duck

One time I was so angry I threw my glasses against the wall, tried to rip a teacher’s board down, and punched a window with my forearm. I had to go to the hospital and got stitches near my elbow. Now there are two straight scars and one scar that looks like a duck. I missed a special privilege and received a low score for poor behavior. I had to spend 10 days in gauze and a watertight showering sleeve.

When I get that angry, I have little discretion. I wish I had taken a break from class and gone to the time-out room. It also would have been good to have a book with me. Now I make sure I have a couple with me at all times.

Charles Carson B., 16
Syosset, NY

Honorable Mentions: Nicholaus Gerber, Samantha Hallinan, Jose O., Skakeem S., Giselle Santiago.

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