At the brink of middle school, Kennedy began daydreaming about what it would be like to be picked last and not get lunches, not have good grades and not have a dad.
“You get the feeling you’re going nowhere,” she said.
She made several bad choices, getting into a fight at school and having a fight at home. To clear her head, she used marijuana, which was once less widely available at school. She hung out with friends, got into trouble with the law, was arrested for petty theft, dropped out of school, became so depressed that she had to go into the home of the pastor of her church to eat and cry.
Kennedy needed a Band-Aid. One of her caregivers had noticed she was drawing and asked her to draw one with her drawings. This one had words: just leaving, so short, and just going, so slow. Kennedy was drawn to this one. She kept this one all year, holding it as a symbol of her choice to turn her life around.
Kennedy’s mother, Angela, and her grandmother decided to treat her to a weekend in August to help Kennedy become a better person. They put Kennedy on a plane for a half-day at a rehabilitation center in California.
From the moment she stepped off the plane, Kennedy was amazed at how quickly she got out of bed. She realized that she was such a bad example of a kid who was spending too much time with drugs and bad people.
“You’re thinking about all the negative stuff, and what would happen if you didn’t smoke any marijuana,” Kennedy said. “It’s hard to imagine how good you are going to feel with all that positive stuff.”
Kennedy is now focused on her schoolwork, working on a project in art and preparing to go back next year.
“We just want to keep things positive,” Kennedy’s grandmother said. “It was just one step. Another day.”
The people of the church where the teenager attends counseling also planned to take Kennedy away to help her with homework.
“A small intervention makes a big difference,” said Pastor Bob McKinley, who works out of the congregation at First Great Hope in Norwich, Conn. “They are starting a new life.”