Hear My Voice

We would like to share a peak inside a recent “Book of My Own” Program:

I have had the honor and privilege of creating with and leading Writers’ Workshops for the FABULOUS students at Brent Place Learning Center for a second year. This year a new group of students, representing five different countries, came together as one creative family.

During our time together, we explored many different topics – always filled with joy and laughter and truth. Seeing teens “get real” and share from the heart is always incredible. Creating this book and watching our students find themselves through the power of their own words was a wonderful experience of transformation. They found their voice, shared it with each other and now, through this book, with you.

I am so proud of the stories they are sharing about bravery, about family, about love and being authentic and uniquely themselves in this crazy world. This journey to explore and find themselves through creative writing exemplifies the power of “Book of My Own” to not only build self-esteem and writing skills but also to shift the educational paradigm from a “have to” to a “get to” with students excited for our next class together, truly partnering in their education.

Imagine. Dream. Create. Believe. Become.

With love and deepest appreciation
For allowing me to go on a piece of your journey, Rainey
Lorraine Friedman, Executive Director, DreamDog


The following poems are from our book A Story From Everyone.

I am

I am bright

like a star that’s shining

in the night sky.

I am as yellow as the sun

on a beautiful day.

I am raindrops

falling from the sky

when I’m down.

I am as blue as the sky

on a sunny day.

I can be as mean as a fox

when someone invades my space.

I am powerful when

I stand up for myself.

I am as peachy as a peach

when someone is kind to me.

I am strong and humble

when I’m not afraid.

I am afraid, scared, and sad

when I’m alone.

I am fearless

when I believe in myself.

I am myself

and no one can change me.

I am the best I can be

at everything I achieve.

I am many different things

some are bad and some are good.

I am sometimes rude and evil.

I am only one person.

I am forgiving and caring.

I am strong and not afraid.

I am powerful and humble.

I am a person you can never change.

I am Amya Nicole Matthews.

~ Amya Matthews


Behind Closed Doors

I was walking in the front of Brent Place and I tripped and fell on a rock and landed on a little girl’s bike. As I stood up the pain in my arm slowly went away. I looked at the girl near the bike and said sorry. The girl had had three nappy puff balls on her head and a saggy shirt that said I love New York and some shorts on. Her sister was tall and had long jumbo braids and had a crop top on with some ripped short shorts. I apologized and she had invited me into her house.

As I walked into her house the smell of alcohol hit me in my face like Mayweather. I can see the struggle in her eyes. The curse words that her mom and step dad were saying to each other were very mean and cruel. I tried to carry on but their arguing turned physical and the older sister Sendra tried to pull her alcohol-addicted stepfather off of her mom that was 3 months pregnant.

I took Sendra’s little sister into her room and told her to lock the door. As I rush downstairs Sendra was still trying to get her stepfather off of her mom. I tried to help but end up getting pushed down by Bernard (Sendra’s step dad). Sendra starts getting him off of her but at that time Sendra’s little sister calls the police and right then the police broke down the door and arrested Bernard for domestic violence. He had been wanted for five years. Then immediately they took Sendra’s mom to the hospital. Thank God that she made it out alive.

You shouldn’t judge people because you don’t know what happens behind closed doors. 

~ Charity Adusei


The Real Me

I love to sleep a lot

sleeping soothes me

when I sleep I feel like

I’m wrapped in a cotton ball

when I go to sleep

I feel very warm inside

wrapped inside my sheets

and swimming in a pool of softness

with my family

I try to be nice as I can be

sometimes I am rude

sometimes I am not

it depends on how I feel

inside I am a sweet boy,

a nice boy

in school and with my friends,

I am cool.

~ Christopher Martinez


A Thought

I was walking through a park and I saw a magic lamp. I rubbed it then a guy who was dressed funny came out and said my name and gave me three wishes.

I did not know what to wish for so I told him, “I don’t know what to wish for,” and he said, “You should wish for me to go home because I don’t want to be here right now.” I asked why. He said have you seen this place? It is so horrible. He said you should wish for this place to be better. Then I picked up the lamp and I got sucked into the lamp. I told him to wish me out of here. He said get me out of here who told you to go in there?

I was stuck in there for days. Then he told me to wish myself out of here. I wasted all my three wishes and ended up back home. That’s when I realized that my home was what I wished for before I even found that lamp and the crazy genie.

~ Isaias Michael


People Say

People say

I have great eyes

and that they are as big

as the moon, in the sky.

People say

I have a great smile

like an emoji face.

People say

I am a good friend

because I help people

when they are down.

People say

I have a bright heart

that shines like the sun.

~ Lidia Michael


My Family’s Path to Freedom

It was 1:00 in the morning. Everything was dark when we got on a huge bus from Eritrea to Sudan. My parents were scared because there was military that would kill you if you were escaping. We were going through the forest and there were tigers and lions. The bus driver had to drive really fast to get away from the tigers.

The bus overheated and exploded in the driver’s face. He died right there. My parents covered my face and I didn’t see it. But we had to wait ten hours in the forest for a new bus to come rescue us. Our lives were at danger every moment.

We couldn’t stop because there were no bathrooms on the bus. The little kids just peed in their pants and there was nothing they could do. After one day, we were in Sudan. My parents felt better. They weren’t scared anymore.

We were in Sudan for six years and then came to America because my Dad got a job here. Me and my family are happier here in Virginia. We are making a new life, every day.

~ Bahregasi Samuel



Who am I? I only really know what I seem to be and due to my young age it’s not like I know who I really am either, but I can try to tell you. Let’s start with the basics. I am Mikeil Jai Williams, a 14 year old boy.

Now that part is out of the way, let’s start to discuss what’s inside me or “the real me.” I’m a kid who acts like he’s all that. Even to the point where I admit being conceited, and arrogant. I tend to act like I’m above others and it doesn’t really bother me. Even though I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong with the way I act despite even admitting one of my biggest faults there may just be a possibility that I’m just lying to myself.

Now that I told you about myself exactly who are you? I don’t mean your name. I mean your true identity. You know how everybody knows who Spiderman is. Well even fewer people know that he’s Peter Parker. While knowing who the man is behind the mask does it mean that you actually know him? Who’s to say that he even knows himself? If you swallow your pride and become humble enough to find out who you really are, how do you expect others to know you?

Are we all brave enough to drop our masks and show our true selves? If you’re like me and you don’t know yourself, just remember even though identity begins with the letter “I” finding it begins with you.

Well I hope that you get a sense of who I am, I’m still searching myself.

~ Mikeil Williams

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