Student Success Stories
Delilah’s Speech at the 2018 Rising Stars Fundraising Event
This past May, ASAS DC and Somerset Prep DC Student Delilah Bailey, was selected to give the keynote speech at our annual Rising Stars Fundraising event. She gave these powerful remarks in front of hundreds of supporters, and we are proud to share an abridged version of her story!
“Hi, my name is Delilah Bailey and I am 12 years old. I am currently a 6th grader at Somerset Prep DC. I have been participating in After-School All-Stars since they first started the program in September, and I am so happy to be a part of this organization; it has been an excellent experience.
I never had the opportunity to do certain things before All-Stars came to my school. I now serve on the Youth Advisory Board advocating for my community and peers. The challenge I decided to take on was mental health, and thanks to our partnership with Trinity University I was able to work side by side with college students. The problem we are facing is that there is a stigma that it is not cool to talk about your feelings, and the state of depression is ignored, as if it is not real. I know by experience that it is real, as I have suffered from depression and didn’t have an avenue to express myself.
Let me take you back to 3rd grade. I was a chubby, timid and quiet little girl with glasses and a clumsy streak. You can imagine how often I was bullied. I realize today that my insecurities with my body led me to dress like a boy. This caused kids to constantly call me gay to the point where I tried to dress more girly, but no matter what I did I was unable to fit in. I had to live with people trying to define who I am and telling me who I am not, from 3rd grade all throughout 5th grade. Imagine walking the streets and hearing people chanting things at you about your identity, and you constantly having to defend who you are. Every day I was judged, and everyday people were trying to break me down. No matter how many times I shifted my pants to a skirt and decided to ditch my glasses to go blind for the day, it still didn’t stop these critics from attacking me. I had no one to talk to, no one to uplift me in an environment that kept tearing me down. So I lived in a world of darkness, loneliness, and pain.
One day in 5th grade this became too much, and I decided on that lonely walk home when a man yelled to me “ay ay excuse me, are you a girl or a boy!?” that I wouldn’t suffer another cruel remark. When I got home that night, I was surrounded by the dark words of my peers, still with no outlet, and no one to talk to, and it all took hold of me. I went into my mother’s room, opened her cabinet, grabbed a bottle of pills and went back into my own room to sit on the floor. I remember a glass of water sitting on top of my dresser, I accidentally knocked it over and the water spilled. I had made up my mind at that point, and dumped the pills into my mouth anyway. I was so determined to end all my pain that I swallowed them dry. All I was thinking in that moment was “Would this make the pain stop? Would this make all my bad thoughts go away?” The last thing I remember was my mom returning home from the store, opening my door to ask me about my day, and everything went black. I thought I was dead. My dad passed away before I was born, and the image I have of him is through pictures. I remember seeing his face in that dark place, and him saying “it’s not your time to go.”
I woke up in the hospital with cords coming out of my arms. There were so many thoughts going through my head, from thinking I wasn’t going to end my suffering then, to me wondering how could I have done this. What stuck out the most was the amount of support I received afterwards, cards from people I never knew cared, and from the same kids that bullied me.
I believe that when you are going through a hard time, and there is no one to help you through that, sometimes you just give up. Kids need support. Kids need to be heard. We need an outlet. When your voice is silenced long enough, you start to believe it doesn’t exist.
As a member on the Youth Advisory Board, this is why I decided to design a project around mental health. I didn’t want other people to go through what I had been through. With my project we are going to create a support group at my school in an effort to create a safe place for students to have an outlet, as well as the confidence to speak up about the challenges they are facing. That’s one of the many things I am doing through After-School All-Stars.
Some other things I participate in are my music production class, and the music video class which allows us to express ourselves in a positive way when being faced with a lot of stress and rough times. I know when I walk through those doors I can throw all my stress away. Never before have I had as much support as I have from After-School All-Stars. It would be impossible for me to describe what this program means to me. So, all I can say as I bring this speech to an end is thank you for bringing this program to my community, and giving students like me in my neighborhood a different type of option filled with limitless opportunities.”