Drugs. Gangs. Violence. Life beyond his back door became a dangerous place for Jason. "There was a point where I looked out my window onto my street, where my neighbor had been shot. And I really didn't see myself making it to 21."
Learn about Artists for Humanity, where Jason is Special Projects Director.
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[01:00:02:17] Growing up in the 80s, we used to play Hide-and-go-seek, Hopscotch and Kick-ball. All of a sudden, those streets I used to play in were flooded with violence and drugs. It became a very dangerous place.
Right outside the back door of my middle school was gang territory. I had to walk from my school through gang territory after gang territory after gang territory before I finally got home. And these guys would chase us. There was a point where I looked out of my window onto my street where my neighbor had been shot. And I really didn't see myself making it to 21. I got to say, I retreated to my living room to find safety, to avoid the danger.
[01:00:55:14] The living room television became a window, a gateway into a broader world, a world that was closed off from me.
If I ran home, I got to watch Bob Ross. Not only was his painting technique almost like a magic trick, but after the stress of running home, it just soothed me. Me and my brother, we once got into a fight: he wanted to watch hockey, I wanted to watch Julia Child. I loved the artistry that Julia Child used when she cooked. I loved the craft. "This Old House" gave me the confidence to make the things that I felt the world needed. Growing up in gang territory, sometimes I felt despair. But you can turn on the television and see a beautiful world. It gives you hope that you can make it to that world. Art is an extremely important part of my life today. I'm one of the founding members of Artists for Humanity, where I mentor young people to help them be creative and find creative solutions for the problems they see in the world. We use artwork to teach life lessons. The creativity that I saw on WGBH, not just in Bob Ross's brush, but from the solutions that the astronauts have to come up with to repair a space station. Those creative solutions are what I hope to apply to the problems that I see in our neighborhoods and our communities today.
[01:02:35:04] To this day, there is still gangs in my neighborhood. I do my best as a mentor to keep kids out of gangs, to make sure that there is a clear path towards success from my neighborhood. I found that path through WGBH. By being well educated and well informed, I can better inform, I can better educate, and I can be a stronger leader.