My name is Gabrial Irion. I attended Oakendell from the age 15 and graduated at the age of 18. Most of my life I have struggled with my own personal issues that past experiences have brought upon me. I was heading down a road where I lived by no set morals or structure. I believed that the world worked against me and the road to success was far beyond my grasp. I do recognize that not every troubled youth has the self confidence or motivation to ascend to a higher road to travel; However, through the efforts of the Oakendell staff, I have found my self worth even though many people doubted and believed that I couldn't be anything more than what I already was. Even to this day I still struggle with my issues but have learned ways to cope and manage my emotions and perspective.
As of now, I am a productive citizen, and college student, who books metal shows at bars and periodically coordinates benefit shows to help other people in need such as kids with PKU, Butte County fire victims, school benefits helping kids obtain necessary school supplies, and kids with Autism. It is my belief that if people stop helping troubled youth to understand that there is a better life to live and other roads that can can be traveled, that the youth will have a significantly slimmer chance of finding a better life than the one that the have suffered. Everyone deserves the opportunity to change their life for the better and that is what Oakendell has given me. To deny someone of that opportunity is to deny them the chance to become something greater therefore damning them to their current fate.
Though residential treatment is not easy for most youth, it has given me a better life than I ever knew existed. To neglect one life is to neglect all life in it's principles. I just hope that this fact is not overshadowed due to financial concerns or politics. If we want the world to become a better place then it is our responsibility to nurture and support future generations to make a better world possible. This my not happen within our lifetime but you can ask yourself, would you rather our grandchildren to live in a world with more people locked away in prisons, or live in a world filled with people who once were damaged and have redeemed themselves to a stronger character that have the power to help others through their own struggles. It's not a concern of right or wrong, but if we are willing to sacrifice for the better good. The choice lies within each of us. What is your choice?