Impactful Stories

I thank Mike Jones for being that person who truly finally saw me!

PTDYA sees the potential and uniqueness of each student. When Ceeana was in middle school she said she felt” overlooked and, underestimated,” causing her to become withdrawn, “shielding my true personality from everyone.” In high school, when PTDYA entered her life, she finally felt acknowledged and seen. The staff and programs of PTDYA encouraged Ceeana’s interest in the performing arts and she grew to be a confident and social young woman, performing in professional theatre productions and movies. She is now a dance major at Columbia College of Chicago and is currently working on a TV documentary with the BET network.

Every time I perform, I always feel a calm come over me and forget everything negative in my life. I’m in my safe place where no bit of reality can touch me. Performing is my only outlet away from any worries that I have; it’s my therapy.
 — Ceeana H.

African American students, often overlooked and ignored by society, need opportunities to be acknowledged, to find self-worth, and to realize their full potential. PTDYA sees every student as worthy and ensures they will be seen for who they can become.

Through song, she transforms and expresses all things.

The arts help students express repressed trauma that may be standing in their way. Jaime joined PTDYA in middle school. She was suffering from a recent traumatic experience when her music teacher asked her to “reach down inside herself and find something that hurt, something she could convey in the song.” As Jaime sang through her pain, she was able to free herself of her secret and “let loose this awful experience,” revealing to her teacher that she had been sexually molested. Because of PTDYA, Jaime was able to expose the secret eating away at her. Teachers and family sprang into action, providing support, and the tools Jaime needed to heal. And she has thrived. Currently a high school senior, Jaime is preparing for college in 2021.

Studies indicate 60% of African American girls have been sexually assaulted by the time they are 18.*

There have been many young women like Jaime that PTDYA has reached and many more in need of our programs. PTDYA is a critically needed safe space where students like Jaime can give voice to their pain and begin the healing process.

*Source: “What’s hidden in plain sight: A look at child sexual abuse,” American Psychological Assoc., 2014