Meet Lloyd. Lloyd is a recent graduate of the ARCHES program, an NYC Department of Probation initiative designed to help probation clients get out of the criminal justice system by strengthening their attachment to education, work and community. In the video below, he shares his trajectory from court involvement to community connections to high school graduation and leadership in his community.
Lloyd is one of hundreds of youth whose lives have been transformed by the ARCHES initiative.
Text of Lloyd’s Speech
My name is Lloyd Jones, and this is the graduation speech I never got to give.
All my life I was known as this quiet person, who never got into any trouble. But one day I hit a bump in the road in high school. I started hanging out with the wrong friends, and doing stupid things. I felt like I needed a place to fit in, somewhere.
I wanted to be like other kids, but I just couldn’t do it. It just wasn’t me. I got arrested and ended up on probation.
My parents were sad and mad, but they stuck by me. And with their support, I stayed in school, but I was still skipping classes. My family couldn’t believe I was still getting in trouble.
So one day, at probation, I met this guy named Abdul – this big, big guy – and he introduced me to this new program called ARCHES, that mentors kids from age 16 to 24. He taught me all about setting goals. And he encouraged me to look into another school that might be better for me to get my high school diploma in.
And that’s when everything started changing. I started doing community service. I was handing out clothes and food in Far Rockaway after Hurricane Sandy. My Probation Officer got me involved in Youth Rap. I was a tutor for a GED class at the Fortune Society. My poetry was published in a magazine. And I was even chosen to testify before the City Council. That’s amazing.
A lot of good things started happening. And my grades got even better. I don’t know if it was the volunteering, my Probation Officer Rivera, my mentor Abdul, or the family support, but I finally got my high school diploma. And I just got a job as a mentor working with other kids on probation that were just like me.
I’m just so proud of how far I’ve come. It’s like I’ve really transformed myself from a follower into a leader. I just want to say that, just ’cause something seems impossible, or out of reach, and there’s people out there telling you what you can and cannot do, don’t listen to them voices, and don’t give up. Just keep thriving.
I just want to thank God, the South Bronx Probation center, my mentor Abdul Malik, my Probation Officer Esteban Rivera, the BCCJR, known as the Bronx Clergy Criminal Justice Roundtable, and my family. They all helped change my life.