By Bevin Theodore
When Valaysha Colon first arrived at the KidsPeace Children’s Hospital, she was an angry teenager who could not understand why her mom was getting in the way of everything she wanted to do, namely smoke, drink and fight.
Today, the 15-year-old from Allentown, Pa., is immensely grateful that her mom cared enough to intervene and that the staff at KidsPeace showed her there was a better way. She shared her story through a rap song she wrote and delivered Monday evening at the 30th annual KidsPeace Golf Classic at Brookside Country Club in Macungie.
Leidy Ocasio (right) of Allentown, attended the
dinner following the KidsPeace Golf Classic on June
15 to hear her daughter, Valaysha Colon, 15,
share what she has learned at KidsPeace.
“KidsPeace helped me a lot,” Valaysha told the crowd before breaking into rhyme. “Before I came, I was heading down a really wrong path. I was putting my mom through anything and everything.”
Valaysha recalled being restrained daily during her stay in the hospital. But something shifted in her mindset when she stepped down to the residential treatment program. There, she has gotten a second chance. She credits caring counselors for helping her realize that the actions that were causing her mom so much grief were also detrimental to her own future.
“I wouldn’t call them mistakes because at the end of the day, they’re lessons learned,” she said.
In being open to changing her life for the better, Valaysha has gained perspective. She is grateful her mom refused to give up on her. She learned to trust. She has a plan for her future, and she no longer makes excuses or lets circumstances detract from her goals and dreams.
“You may think you have the worst life, and you may think you’ve been through everything, but life is what you make of it,” she said.
She is looking forward to going home because she knows now that she controls what comes next.
“When I grow up I actually want to work at KidsPeace,” she said. “And I want to be a motivational speaker.”
Judging by the emotional reactions from the crowd and the standing ovation that followed her speech, she already is. Here is Valaysha's story:
Ima just put it like this …
Before I came here, I was heading down the wrong path.
I guess you could say, I thought I had it bad.
Until I heard all the stories here, it made me really sad.
This girl was only eight and got abused by her dad.
It opened my eyes and made me realize …
That I have a good mom, and she will never leave my side.
This place changed me.
Before I came here, I was really angry.
I was a little girl living in this big world …
Tryna find who I am, I hope I can make you understand.
I had poor self-esteem.
Just wanted to live Marilyn Monroe’s theme.
Curvy waist, good shape, with a pretty face …
Man, she was livin the dream.
So they put me in “Inner Beauty”
Hoping that it would get through to me.
And it did …
It clicked like magic.
I finally realized that life wasn’t so tragic.
And that I may not be perfect, but I am worth it.
Being here I found a new way to cope instead of using my fist.
I picked up a pen and started writing like this
Started thinking about life …
This is my second chance, I gotta do this right.
For my happiness and freedom, I will never stop the fight.
Through all the pain I felt here, sometimes I’d sit back and laugh.
To come and think about it, it was really all my staff.
They were always there for me.
They helped me find the part of me I couldn’t always see.
I have it now, and I’ll never let it go.
I’m strong, confident, and beautiful …
And that will always show.
Remember that time I had a bad family session.
I was so angry, I couldn’t relieve the tension.
Stormed to my room so I could be by myself.
But staff were always behind me and pulled my feelings off the shelf.
They always had my back, which built up my trust.
Even when I got mad, slipped up and would cuss.
But I learned from my mistakes …
That’s the name of the game.
But it’s really not a game ...
I had to face all my pain.
Staff always told me I was inspirational.
And that my words were always gonna be motivational.
That’s why I use my words …
For days like today …
To prove you that if you started where I did …
In the end everything will be okay.