My name is Gabriel Ramirez, and I am a 17-year-old young man who wants his voice to be heard in the world, not just for myself but for the community where I live. When I was growing up, I never knew exactly what direction I wanted to go. The area I was raised in had a lot of bad neighborhood kids, homeless people, and women who use their body to make money. It’s a little neighborhood called Oak Park, where I learned you must strive for yourself in order to survive, and you must only trust your family and your gut.

I’ve adapted to my surroundings and I have a lot of friends and family who live in Oak Park, so now when I go out of town or to a different neighborhood I feel out of place, like something is missing. I love to express my feelings and thoughts into my journal, it is like a stress reliever and it seems to solve the problems I have on my mind. I also love to take random pictures of friends and family and make videos with them. It’s like the memory of that moment is captured and forever in my grasp.

I know my life is what I shape it to be, and with this project I hope to be a problem solver for my neighborhood and for everyone in the community to become united. Some of the problems we have here are quite simple to solve if you think about it. The bad neighborhood kids should have an after school program that educates them to not get involved in gangs or criminal activity. The homeless people should have a shelter that educates them how to make a resume and get their life turned around with just a few changes. And the women walking the streets should have a medical center they can go to so we can stop the spread of sexual diseases to the community around them.

Unfortunately, in my neighborhood, there are plenty of more problems than just the few I just mentioned. But I am excited to be a part of this project because I can be a voice for my community that gets heard and hopefully inspires more teens in the community to strive for success, instead of repeating the destructive cycle. I hope more of my peers and others hear about and join this project and that these blogs could change lives and maybe even save some of them. I hope that everyone in my community learns that it only takes one voice to be heard and one to grab the attention of generations.