Former Boys Town North Florida Youth Graduates Early

As the saying goes, it's not how you start but how you finish. This saying rings true for Jeal'Dealiar.

Born addicted to crack cocaine and living with a parent who frequently used substances, the beginning of her life appeared to be a negative one. “The negative behaviors began in 2010 when my father passed away," said Jeal'Dealiar. “This loss was very devastating." As a result, she began to cope with this loss by rejecting love from family that was there to protect and care for her.

In 2015, Jeal'Dealiar and her brother were removed from their mother's care and placed with relatives, where she displayed anger and frustration by lashing out on the family that took her in. Because of her anger, Jeal'Dealiar was placed into the Family Home program where she learned how to cope with life's negativity and disappointments. The eight months that she spent in the program prepared her to return home with her relatives that loved her so much.

Once Jeal'Dealiar was back with her relatives, they were referred to the In-Home Family Services program. The family was assigned to consultant Monica Smart-Gainous, who worked with the family for ten weeks to teach parenting skills, link them to resources, and be a support to identify new ways to cope and address negative behaviors displayed by Jeal'Dealiar.

The family began to see a positive change. There were a few bumps in the road, but negative behaviors slowly began to fade as Jeal'Dealiar began to change her way of thinking. Her behaviors of lashing out at family began to decrease and her grades and behaviors at school improved.

Jeal'Dealiar truly proves that it's not how you start but how you finish. Not only did she graduate high school, but she graduated a year early from Success Academy in Tallahassee. She is currently employed, has her own apartment, and is striving to be the best person she can be. She plans to attend Tallahassee Community College in January 2022 to study Emergency Services to ultimately become a firefighter.

There is no such thing as a bad child, change the environment and you're likely to change the behavior.– Father Flanagan​