LANCASTER – More than two hundred came out Saturday morning to celebrate the six year anniversary of Change Lanes, a court approved agency that provides support for at-risk children, teens and young adults.
“We thought we’d celebrate by allowing the youths to give back to the community,” said Change Lanes Founder Cynthia Spears. “We let them develop the program, facilitate the program, and just be in charge of the whole show, because it’s about them.”
The two-hour event kicked off with a continental breakfast and open house walk through of the Change Lanes facility. The celebration then moved next door to Saving Grace Christian Ministries to accommodate the hundreds of people that showed up for the feature presentation.
The program included musical performances by Change Lane youths, a short play entitled “Why Momma Why,” and inspirational messages from featured guest speakers.
Life Coach Steve Medina told the audience that as a teenager, he’d spent time in prison for dealing drugs; but since then, he’d worked hard to turn his life around. He encouraged youths going through similar circumstances to make a commitment to change negative behaviors today.
“Find out why you’re making those decisions and fix it, because once you do, your records can be sealed,” Medina said. “But once you cross that bridge and become an adult and make a crime, your life is going to be very difficult.”
For 15-year-old Brandy Jones, the commitment to change came about two months ago.
“I wanted to change my life around,” said Jones. “I wanted to get help, because I was stealing and fighting in school.”
Jones said through Change Lanes, she learned anger management and a new perspective regarding school.
“They helped me to change the way I felt about school, so I was able to stop fighting,” Jones said.
Like Jones, Spears said many youths come to Change Lanes with problems, but usually leave with a new perspective. She estimates the program has helped more than 1,000 teens to turn their lives around in its six years.
“We help them get out of the criminal justice system, get off probation and move forward,” said Spears. “Our goal is to uplift, motivate and empower them so they can be productive members in society.”
Spears says she is living proof that remarkable change is possible.
“By the time I was 19, I had two kids, grew up in an alcoholic family, and went through the drug scene,” said Spears. “I now have 22 years clean and sober, went back to school, got my bachelor’s degree, and I’m currently working on my master’s degree.”
Spears is encouraging members of the community to help support the lifesaving mission of Change Lanes Youth Support Services. Residents may donate items such as snacks, canned goods, or clothing by dropping items off at the Change Lanes facility: 1122 West Avenue L-12, Suite 102, Lancaster, CA.
Monetary donations are also welcome. All donations are tax deductible. For more information about donations or to learn more about Change Lanes, contact 661-948-2555 or visit www.changelanes.org.