Carlee Bradford witnessed the fruits of her dedication and experiences from the Teens in Motion program when she received her diploma from Hannibal High School last month — the first teen in the program to achieve the goal.
Bradford joined Kids in Motion a few years ago when she was in "a rough spot" and not making good choices. Kids in Motion and Teens in Motion — each under the umbrella of Douglass Community Services and a United Way recipient — bolstered Bradford's skills in areas like community service, public speaking, civic engagement, career preparedness and work ethic. And she said the support she received was key to her success, achieving her diploma within one month after she decided to return to school in November.
"I'm actually glad I went with my grandpa's idea, because Teens in Motion… actually helped my grandparents in raising me," she said. "And if it wasn't for Amy [Vaughn, former Kids in Motion Program Director] or Nicole [Martin, Teens in Motion Coordinator] or anybody like that, I probably wouldn't have gone back to school."
Bradford had hit a rough spot and was not attending school this past fall, but she decided to return and finish her studies through the alternative high school program in November. Within one month, she donned a red cap and gown and had her diploma in hand.
Martin said Bradford took her instruction from Teens in Motion to heart along her career path. Bradford took notes during her interview at Subway, and she could tell interviewers were aware of her interest in the job. She is now employed at the Subway on Shinn Lane.
Teens in Motion began in 2016, teaching teens what Bradford described as a wide variety of life skills and experiences.
"Everything that Teens in Motion teaches you, you will have to use in life," she said. Because everything they have taught me, I have used every bit of it so far."
For the future, Bradford said she is remaining focused on her dreams of becoming a photographer or a registered nurse. Martin said Bradford's skills and the encouragement she received in Kids in Motion and Teens in Motion went hand-in-hand with her personal level of dedication.
"She is the embodiment of perseverance," she said. "I truly think there's nothing she can't do."
Bradford encouraged other youth in the area to experience Teens in Motion and Kids in Motion as they reach for their goals — especially urging young people who are not in school or are making bad choices.
"You can do anything you set your mind to," she said.