Hello…My name is Lottie. I was a part of a program called the YAP Truancy Program in Pittsburgh. During my time in the program, I learned things that I never knew, seen, or heard about before. I learned to love myself and others by just being there and lighting a place with my smile or tears. I came from nothing to be something and I have my mind made up. I got involved in this program in my 11 grade year of high school which was a very difficult time for me to get up on time for school. I had a wonderful advocate to help me along the way, Ms. Heather Cropp. She has helped me change my life for the better.
The penpal project with Ireland started in the Summer/Fall of 2015 when I met a young, beautiful girl named Charlene. I was afraid at first because I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t want to seem too weird or too talkative. We started off just asking one another simple questions. As weeks went by, we started getting know one another more and talked about how we should meet someday. She had sent me some gifts from Ireland which I kept because they inspired me to want to visit Ireland someday. I continued to talk to Charlene even after I left the program because she asked me for help with things so I talked to her about how she could make changes.
Months later, I got a call from Ms. Heather. She asked me if I would like to do a presentation for YAP's 40th Anniversary. I chose to go speak in Harrisburg at the Anniversary. I was shocked when I discovered I would be meeting my penpal from Ireland. I could barely sleep the whole time I was there. We would stay up all night talking, laughing, and having fun. I couldn’t seem to get no sleep being away from home but Charlene told me that I should not be scared because I was still in America when she was farther away from home than I was. When our visit ended, I promised Charlene that I would come see her one day.
On August 18, that day came. YAP offered me the opportunity to visit Ireland. It was my first time traveling or even riding an airplane. I got to visit Dublin, Galway, and Aran Islands. Everywhere was so beautiful and felt peaceful. Everyone was nice, welcoming, and well dressed. They made me feel welcomed and encouraged me to try new things such as the food which was amazing. I was invited to the YAP Ireland Conference where I got to speak about my journey with YAP and having a penpal. While at the conference, I got to meet teens in the YAP Ireland Program and hear their stories. While we live in different countries, our want to be heard was the same. I had a wonderful experience and everyone joked how we brought 5 days of sunshine! I loved that I got a chance to go on a journey to a whole new world opening more opportunities for for my future. THANK YOU YAP FOR CHANGING MY LIFE FROM BETTER TO SUCCESSFUL!!