Going into classrooms everyday as part of my presentation I always ask the students “How many of you have younger brothers and sisters?”. A number of them will raise their hands. I am struck with the reality of how these students are the future influence on the even younger generations to come. In that moment, each day, I am forced to reflect.
I find myself wishing I would have been more of a positive influence to my younger brother. I realize I’m partially responsible for leading my brother, and many others, in the wrong direction. I would glamorize and boast about the nice material things I would attain with an attitude as if I was invincible and thinking I was always making it out on top. In reality I was going the wrong way all together. Now that I realize how much my little brother looks up to me, I fight to be a positive influence to him and the many others. Restoring the damage I did to the community, and boldly confronting everything I use to stand for.
Having insight of the negative glamorized fast life, I never in a million years would have seen myself in front of classrooms sharing my story. It goes to show how one person can make a difference. I always thought to myself “Me, one person, make a difference? But I’m just one person!”. Since I’ve been sober (coming up on 2 years in April) I’ve been able to have an impact on everyone I had once influenced in a negative direction. Letting the community know there is hope is now my focus.
I ask the class “How many of you have older brothers and sisters?” After a number of raised hands, I feel compelled to encourage them to make their own choices if their siblings aren’t making the best decisions. We are in control of our own life. We don’t have to follow anyone in a negative direction. Stand up and be a leader. As a leader I cannot change anyone, but myself and share my personal experience. If I can do it, so can you. It’s not too late. #youcanmakeadifference
Leo Sandoval (KTT Intern Presenter)
Want to learn a little more about our intern Leo? Here is his bio for you reading pleasure….
While growing up in a dysfunctional home with an alcoholic mother, and an absent father, Leo endured much physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. He found his identity, love and acceptance in all of the wrong people, places, and things- like drugs. Leo always strived to be a ‘normal’ child, while wrestling, playing football, and receiving good grades in high school, but still never felt worthy, so he resorted to selling drugs illegally. Leo managed to obtain a degree in floor installation, while still using and selling drugs. Drug dealing finally caught up to Leo when he was busted for selling large amounts of cocaine, and faced with a 122-month prison sentence. After being given the opportunity to enter Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, Leo committed to the year-long treatment program and successfully gradated! Today, he is an active father in his son’s lives, and is a Presentation Intern with Know the Truth.
Favorite thing about Know the Truth
“My favorite part about prevention is getting to use my personal story to have an impact on youth; particularly with those who experience/d a hard upbringing.”
“To be the best father I can be, and attain a college degree – either in business, social science, or education.”