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Felishia Barros

success storyYouth and Police in Partnership Peer Leader Making a Difference: Felishia Barros

Years ago, it was expected that children and teens would experience the sadness of death and dying for the first time through the loss of a grandparent or elderly relative. Today, the expectations are still the same however, for many children and teens; the experience is often through the loss of a peer through violence. Unfortunately, at the age of 14, Felishia would understand this phenomenon first hand.

Ms. Felishia Barros was born in Boston, Massachusetts on November 13, 1992. Her birth gave the Barros family a sense of pride and hope during a very turbulent time in the City of Boston. Although violent crime had peaked in many of Boston’s neighborhoods, the Barros family had nothing to fear. They believed that Felishia would overcome the odds and someday be the first in her family to graduate from college and live a successful life.

Felishia’s early years were spent in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston with her mother Eva Sanchez, a recent immigrant from Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, Felishia would experience her first loss at the age of three when her father was deported. As the fifth oldest of seven children, Felishia developed leadership skills at an early age by helping her mother care for the younger children.

When Felishia was in the fifth grade, her mother moved the family to Hyde Park in search of a better environment for her kids. The prospect of moving out of Jamaica Plain and out of the school zone caused Felishia a lot of heartache because she was doing well in school and had made several friends in the neighborhood. So, the family decided to allow Felishia to live with her Grandmother in order to complete elementary school where she excelled. Later, middle school presented new challenges.

While in middle school, she developed a bad attitude toward her teachers and her academics. In addition, she was also at odds with her mom, became the victim of bullying and later experienced the tragic loss of her friend who was shot and killed.

In 2008, Felishia had been advised to get a part-time job. One day, a conversation with a friend about the need for a job led her to the Youth and Police in Partnership program.

Today, Felishia continues to play a vital part of the YPP program, bringing a wealth of personal experience and enthusiasm to the group. She has learned to take risks when it comes speaking in public and presenting herself in both large and small settings. She takes the initiative to be a strong leader and friend to all of her peers. She is very opinionated and outspoken and has learned to use her skills in a positive manner. Being a leader is very important to her and she is respected by all of her peers.

Currently, Felishia is an 11th grader at the City on Hill Charter School in Roxbury. She is an honor roll student who passed the MCAS with high honors. Her current academic status entitles her to a four-year scholarship to attend any state college of her choice within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Despite the challenges throughout her life, she has overcome the barriers that could have hindered her. Felishia has set high goals for herself and has dreams of becoming a lawyer. She hopes to attend Harvard University or Northeastern University.

Quote: “YPP to me means Strength. I remember how shy I was when I first came to YPP now I am more outspoken and outgoing. I’ve discovered that I really enjoy law and have decided to pursue it as a career. YPP is like a family to me. The program has helped me to work on my attitude and to be a team player. YPP has also helped me in my own personal life to make better decision, and know that I do have choices, and for that I am greatly appreciative.”

Youth and Police in Partnership is a nationally recognized model program operated by Children’s Services of Roxbury. Over the last 3 years, youth outcomes have been extremely positive with 95% of participating seniors completing high school; 50 participants having gone on to attend college, and 480 community service hours delivered to the neighborhoods of Boston by YPP Peer Leaders.

The program, which began as a partnership with the Boston Police Department, has trained over 150 police recruits as mentors through CSR’s longstanding relationship with the Boston Police Academy. This base of recruitment support led to the addition of a new program component called the Essential Services Initiative; a program that includes a supported mentoring component that matches Boston Police, EMS, and MBTA Transit Police with YPP Peer Leaders. Following a formal training, internships will be offered to the Peer Leaders within the essential service departments across the City, with the supervision and guidance of their Essential Services Mentors.

In addition to this new program component, YPP will continue offering its theatrical production of “Know the Law” and its DYS Roundtable Discussion forums for court involved youth within DYS custody.