To meet Nyla Bell now as a 9th grader, you would never imagine that she was a troubled 5th grader getting suspended and hanging around with the wrong crowd.
What you would see today is a poised, articulate and confident young lady who craves intellectual stimulation and loves a robust exchange of ideas.
The turning point in Nyla’s life came when she met Charleston Promise Neighborhood’s Radia Heyward, who steered her towards CPN’s enrichment programs in Sanders-Clyde Elementary School to channel her creativity, broaden her horizons and show her the possibilities for her own life.
In the group Girls Rock, Nyla met the owner of local McDonald’s franchises – a woman. “I learned that maybe men don’t rule the world,” she said.
Three Critical Mentors
Radia also counseled Nyla to write in a journal every day. It gave her a forum for her thoughts, rather than getting into verbal battles with teachers and other adults. Two years’ later, Nyla still writes in it every day.
Nyla credits her mother and brother for always pushing her in the right direction and sticking with her even when she took the wrong path.
Nyla is a member of Charleston Promise Neighborhood’s Teens Talk it Up: Interfaith Arts Project, which teams high school students from the Neighborhood with Jewish counterparts throughout the city to discuss issues of social justice and create arts projects to illustrate what they have learned from each other. She is stimulated by the different perspectives she hears.
“Sometimes I think, ‘I never thought of it that way,’” she says.
Ever since she was five years old and helped a classmate who got hurt, Nyla has dreamed of being a pediatrician. It wouldn’t surprise you if the teenager you meet today were to achieve her dream.