Fifteen-year-old TaQuan is so enthusiastic about Horton’s Kids that he hasn’t missed a day of the older youth program this year. Currently a sophomore in high school, TaQuan is an A and B student who wants to go to college and study chemical engineering. He said: “[I plan to] be successful, have everything planned out, have a house and a good job.”

TaQuan is a regular participant in Horton’s Kids’ weekly boxing class, made possible through a partnership with a local recreational center. Although he has natural athletic ability, TaQuan appreciates the discipline boxing requires and is often the first to finish the required three-mile warm-up run. “It’s different from other sports,” TaQuan said. “It gets me stronger, and I feel confident. I just want to be good at it and improve.”

In addition to enrichment, TaQuan especially likes the weekly discussion forums for older youth participants. Known to the kids as “rap sessions,” they provide TaQuan an outlet to express his feelings. “When I come here, I can be me,” TaQuan said. “It’s a community. I can be more open with people. We can talk about certain topics without being judged.”

TaQuan also recognizes the important function that the Horton’s Kids onsite Community Resource Center plays in providing a safe space for kids in the neighborhood. “There’s so much violence, shootings [in the neighborhood],” TaQuan said. “I want to separate myself from people who are not good influences on me. You’re not going to get anywhere in life doing what others do. You can’t be like everyone else, ending up in jail or dead. It’s okay to be different.”