by Jenn Beard

“Take one step forward if you have grown up with more than one hundred books in your home.” I take a step forward. “Take two steps forward if somebody in your family has told you that you are capable of achieving your dreams.” I take two steps forward. “Take one step back if you have ever lived in a home where you have seen drug deals made on your street, or you have heard gun shots from your home.” I stand still as some of my peers grow further away. As I glance behind me my eyes immediately avert. Why are they so far away? Why can’t we all just all just be on a level Playing Field? How did I become so lucky to be born into fortune, while others are born into misfortune? As the activity continues my I become more abashed and my steps increasingly get smaller. I develop the urge to lengthen my arms, take the hands of my peers behind me, and pull them up to where I stand.

All of my life I have lived in the city of Newport Beach entirely oblivious to how privileged I am compared to others in my community, until sophomore year when I joined a club at my school called Bridges. When I joined Bridges, I had a news flash of how fortunate I actually am. Prior to my current understanding, I was under the impression that I lived in the slums of Newport Beach—that it was me who was the less fortunate one.

This news flash was not taken lightly. It inspired me to learn more about my community and how I could help—if there is a way to utilize my fortune to help better the conditions of others, I will find it. I am constantly learning about new horror stories of children my age or younger already becoming hopeless and falling into the cycle of violence. This awareness inspires me. While I have no interest in taking steps back to where some of my peers are, I do have an interest in giving my peers the extra little push they need to become level with where I stand.

I do not tolerate children, teenagers, or young adults who have lost hope in becoming greater than what they are born into. I particularly do not tolerate those who fall into the cycle of violence as their way to fit in or even to escape. I feel as though the number one cure for the hopeless is hope and it is my goal to provide that for as many people as I can.

I have grown up in an environment that is considerably one of the best on planet Earth, and while some people who are born into the same level, or beyond, as myself may want to go further and come out on top, unaware of the people behind them; unaware of the people they may push while they “rank supreme,” I do not. I look behind me and notice that there are people who need help, people who can go long distances with only a little hope. Instead of thinking that my community is not enough, my environment has taught me what is enough and what more people need to strive to be in.