When Jimmy entered Inspirations for Youth and Families (IYF) Teen Rehab, he was much like other teens that come to the nation’s premier addiction treatment center. He did not have a direction in life, his confidence was low, he had zero motivation, and he was experiencing the unhealthy side effects resulting from substance abuse.
But little by little, as he continued through the program he began experiencing progressive improvement both physically and mentally. IYF – known for its extensive educational and recreational programs – allowed Jimmy to learn critical life skills that were necessary to transform him into the person in recovery that he wanted to be.
Besides the individual and group therapy and extensive educational responsibilities, Jimmy was already undertaking, he found much-needed fun and solitude from IYF’s extracurricular activities which included: beach trips, fishing excursions, a live presentation from a Harlem Globetrotter, and a musical concert.
However, there was one event that he participated in which ultimately changed him in a very positive and profound way – the “Don’t Text Don’t Drive,” Public Service Announcement (PSA) contest, where students from all parts of the Broward County School System competed to win the coveted award.
Jimmy was part of an IYF team that produced a 30-second PSA, where a teen was texting and walking at the same time and collided into a basketball pole. The message portrayed in the video was simple with a little Seinfeld Krameristic comedy – if you can’t walk and text you certainly can’t drive and text. Jimmy played a supportive role in the video production and it was submitted to the Broward County contest administrators.
Cut to March 19th, 2015 at approximately 10:30 a.m. after 33 PSA’s were viewed and voted on by a Red Carpet audience of 500 students and hosted by Wil Shriner, the highly acclaimed television writer, comedian, director, and producer. It was at this time when Shriner announced the winner of the Student Choice Award voted on by each Broward County School student contestant’s peers.
Shriner emphatically proclaimed the winning school: Inspirations for Youth and Families Educational Academy and Jimmy was suddenly being brisked away onto the stage to receive the prestigious trophy. Camera flashes were abound as they were pointed to him and suddenly the erstwhile down and out kid was the toast of the town.
The PSA would run on the Hallmark Channel, the Beacon Cable Television Network and the popular Paul and Young Ron morning radio show on BIG105.9 FM.
Karen Corcoran-Walsh, the co-founder, and owner of IYF sat down with Jimmy to discuss his amazing transformation.
Here is the written transcript of the interview
Karen: My name is Karen and I am with Inspirations for Youth and Families. This is Jimmy and Jimmy is here to talk about his experiences thus far with Inspirations. Jimmy tell me what it is that you gained out of the program so far?
Jimmy: The whole thing was just really an eye opener, because I was actually here before and that time I never wanted to change for myself. It was more of I just wanted to please you guys, please my parents and make everybody think I’m doing everything good. But this time I actually realized all the stuff I’ve been through and put myself through… that and my family and at the same time my girlfriend and all of them just how much I was doing and what I was doing was horrible that I hated what I became. I was just very selfish and I just wasn’t paying attention to anybody else and that’s not me deep down personally because I actually care about everybody. Anybody that needs something or anything like I’m one of those people that is always there to help them.
I just started to become selfish. I didn’t care and started messing up my stuff like as far as sports, school and all that so this time I asked my parents to make amends with the people that I messed up and stole from and stuff like that and they told me they would if I decided to come here again and I said “Okay I will.” I made little steps before I came here. I was like I am going to make amends with these people.
And then just coming here was kind of like me having to just think and take time to get everything set up in my life because I messed up a lot of stuff and caused a lot of wreckage so coming here and having Ms. Denise (the IYF Director of Education) and Safraz (IYF primary therapist) and everybody here to help me and actually help me rebuild this stuff made it easier, because I rebuilt my life for myself early, but then I had to wait and rebuild it with my parents and figure out my whole situation with like living and everything like that would be.
Karen: Today you were honored at the awards: “Take Five Stay Alive.” We won first place (Inspirations) for the student choice award. How did that feel?
Jimmy: It felt great because you know we worked on it and we were sitting there waiting and then I knew we’re going to win something because we did good and I felt ours was better than everyone else to be honest. And I know we had a lot of fun making it because Ms. Denise’s daughter came in and helped us out with the videotaping and Scott and everybody helped us out, so we knew that it was gonna be good and we all thought of something that was funny and that was the only one we thought was hilarious because everybody else was doing stuff of people dying and getting hit by cars just like that. We decided to do something that was funny and stupid where if you can’t even walk and text how are you expected to drive and text.
Karen: And that’s the video that won?
Jimmy: Yeah and everybody was laughing when they played it for the first time and it was just great. It was fun and it was also kinda cool because now we get to show everybody else what we were thinking and maybe that will help some people realize because I know I don’t text and drive and that’s really bad.
Karen: So how do you feel about learning how to do film and actually your acting in the film? How does that feel as well?
Jimmy: It was fun. It was just a whole bunch of fun. We got there and we were trying to figure out how to move stuff around and set it up to be in the frame so we had to move the basketball goal over and try to figure out where we had to be and what we were going to do. It was fun setting it up we were just there playing basketball and then Noah comes in and then runs into the pole and actually they had to bleep me out because I said a bad word. They told me to act like I normally would so.
Karen: How many takes did it take?
Jimmy: It actually took one!
Karen: One! Oh my goodness.
Jimmy: We practiced one time before and then (shot the video) right after then because she was on a deadline to go somewhere else or something like that so we were like alright we gotta do it right now and it worked perfectly.