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The Heroes Among Us 
By Bonnie Boswell   Contributing Writer 
Published April 21, 2022

 

Bonnie Boswell (Courtesy photo)

There are heroes among us.  Right now, I’m thinking of two people, Julian Harris and Fabian Debora. Both men work with youth at the Arts and Healing Justice Network (aka AHJN or The Network).

It is an organization I learned about while doing a story on system impacted youth for “Bonnie Boswell Reports” on KCET. The Network’s mission is to help youth who are currently incarcerated and those who are transitioning back to society find their way to a healthy, safe and productive life.

Supporting marginalized youth may not always be easy, but The Network has a proven track record.  Julian Harris is youth leadership manager there. He works with people like 23-year-old Kevin Rodas who faced many daunting obstacles during his youth.

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Julian’s runs a program called Our True Colors (OTC). It is a healing process that takes the form of a weekly “check-in” group session. Here youth talk about anything on their mind with Julian and each other. They go on outings together, participate in art and writing projects, learn about paid internships or jobs and become confident and empowered by sharing their life experiences.

Julian, just a few years older than many in the OTC group, says making meaningful change in the juvenile justice system requires “credible messengers.”  Credible messengers like Kevin who can tell their personal stories about life within and outside of the juvenile system with decision makers like the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors.

Another “hero among us” is Fabian Debora, the executive director of Homeboy Arts Academy.  Fabian was justice impacted himself as a youth but found “the gift of art.” He said he discovered art was a place of comfort where he could communicate with something “greater than himself.”

Now a professional artist, Fabian also runs Homeboy Arts Academy, a space Kevin and other at The Network call their second home.  Now that Kevin has centered his life, has a stable job, a place of his own and a new family, Fabian says Kevin is becoming a role model for others.

This, in turn, creates another positive, ripple effect. Julian Harris and Fabian Debora, two men helping others reclaim their lives are true heroes among us.

Watch their stories Fridays at 2:58 p.m. on KCET and learn more about The Network at kcet.org/bonnie.

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Categories: Crenshaw & Around | Uncategorized
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