Dreams Start Here
Christian grew up in South Atlanta with his two brothers, a devoted mom, and an unbreakable determination to be the first in his family to go to college. To many, that may seem like an everyday occurrence, but not to the thousands of children who live in poverty in Georgia. Early childhood is the single most prolific period of development for children. Children in poverty, however, frequently do not have access to the same educational and developmental resources as their peers from higher-income families during this vital time.
Christian and his mom Forrestine had a rough go of it. She was a single mother to three boys and then lost one to violence. They lived in public housing with very little money. They never lost sight of Christian’s dream, though. He knew he was going to be successful, and nothing was going to stop him. Forrestine was there to make sure nothing stopped him. She volunteered at the school almost every day. She helped prepare food, file papers, and answer phones. “Everyone knew me there,” she said. “Christian knew I was there if anything happened. I think he appreciated that.”
ESNG prepared Christian for school. “I soaked in everything the teachers told me. I wanted to learn and play,” he remembered. “When I started Kindergarten, I knew exactly what to do. I could answer the teachers’ questions. I became the classroom helper to help my classmates. Easterseals showed me that I loved to learn. That has followed me to elementary, middle, all the way to college.”
When Forrestine told Sylvan Hills’ staff that her son was graduating from high school, they were all thrilled. “We never second-guessed Christian’s goals. If he said he was going to graduate, he was going to graduate. It was never a surprise for us. It was a joyous moment,” said Ms. Rogers, Sylvan Hills’ center manager at the time.
Well, speaking of surprises, Christian had one up his sleeve. Without his mother knowing, he went to the Atlanta Housing Authority, where he and his family lived, and applied for a college scholarship. He received a full academic scholarship and began classes at Savannah State University in August 2015.
At college, Christian plans on double majoring in Math and International Business to be an international fashion buyer. He and his mother know that without ESNG’s early education, care, and support, Christian’s dreams would be very difficult to achieve.