The word disconnected can foster many different meanings. And when education is put into context, the disconnectedness seems like nothing more than that of an afterthought. Philadelphia, like many other places around the country, has run into a pressing problem- one that is a pivotal part of our future.
This project series, DisConnected, focuses on education in its many forms. It is about telling the story that is happening now. It will be a voice for all those involved, and animate details that until now, have been overlooked and misheard.
The goal is to create a story for the people, by the people. It will consist of many different chapters and vocabularies in hopes that one day everyone will be on the same page.
"Others didn't survive the way I did. When they got shot, they died. When they went to jail, they got life. I was always given a second chance at becoming something and I didn't want to waste this one." -Tyrique Glasgow
Tyrique Glasgow, 29, a South Philadelphia native, capitalizes on positive impact. He navigates the streets, sifting through the good, the bad, and the ugly -- giving direction to what is, and what there always has potential to be.
This story could have opened differently. It could have started with the grisly details: Tyrique has been shot 11 times; he had been in jail for five years; the fast life was once his own. But that is no longer Tyrique's story. The numbers are now just memories, the wounds a constant reminder to make a mark -- a positive one. Tyrique wants to give neighborhood kids a life where gunshots don't interrupt nightly dreams. A life where they don't see limitations. One that goes beyond the block they grew up on.
"Jail was crazy," Tyrique says. "It was peaceful for a bit, like an unwanted vacation, to get away from the ... all of this. Even though it was on a negative term, I liked it. I got a chance to figure out what I was doing in life."
Before the life he lives now, Tyrique lived fast. He was selling drugs, making money, and running the streets. It was a time when he couldn't really see life, he says -- it blended with constant movement, a blur of tight streets and run-down corners. Now, Tyrique's life doesn't seem so ... detached.
"I show kids places like Central Park and they tell me they thought this place only existed in movies."
Tyrique's new job is making places like Central Park not just a distant afterthought for neighborhood kids. He wants them to have the world, not just South Philadelphia.
He thinks of himself as a role model now.
"I try to give these kids anything they want, as long as its not drugs. Before, that's what I gave them. From the dollars and the bags, they've seen all that. They knew I wasn't working and they tried to follow it. They knew 'Rique's story. Some of them are still stuck on the corner and it's going to be hard for me to get them off. Hard because they see that fast life. It only takes one sentence to make them realize that this isn't a game. They can do a week in jail, or a month, but try 20 years. Try doing life. It's not good," says Tyrique.
As a person who is still growing at 29, "'Rique" takes it one day at a time. He hopes his dreams will be surpassed by those of the kids. It's no stretch to say that the kids -- anywhere from the 50-100 of them he works with regularly -- are his second chance. The goal is to open a center where marginalized kids will feel significant within their communities, and more importantly, within their world.
To make this happen Tyrique has recently submitted a proposal to his local city councilman. He continues to hold meetings, seeking support from community leaders and organizations. He's also enrolled at Peirce College, studying towards a degree in business management.
But Tyrique is not the only person out there doing good, and he is certainly not the only person helping kids achieve their dreams.
He is a person, though, who battled with who he was, messed with trouble, and came out from it. "If I was capitalizing on the negatives for so long," Tyrique asks, "what would happen if I put as much energy into the positives?"
It may seem easy, but maybe it's the kids who have the answers to what the future needs. Finding those answers is about giving neighborhood kids the resources needed to grow -- giving them not just hope, but also a fighting chance to make that hope a reality.
"I know it might sound crazy, but I want a whole 'hood CareerLink for kids. Like, the same way they have resource centers, I think we should have that for kids," Tyrique says. "Where can a kid go to get help? Like, if he is getting high and not going to school -- what place can he go besides the agencies that will place him? Who can he talk to? Where can he volunteer?
"In our community if you don't grasp it early, you're not going to get it. Some of them just think that all they can do is sell drugs or go dancing at a club, but it's not like that. I want to give them a chance. I know that one day I am going to get a space where I can provide stuff like that. Good things come to those who wait."