New Book Chronicles Children Who Defy the Odds in Search for an Education
Posted on Wednesday January 11, 2012 | National
Voices of Determination Follows 10 Children from all Walks of Life, Telling Their Stories of Heartbreak, Endless Determination, and Ultimate Success
Washington, DC - Spurred by the stories of his father’s lonely and sometimes dangerous seven-mile walks to a schoolhouse in the segregated South, Kevin Chavous is today announcing the release of his second book Voices of Determination: Children That Defy the Odds. The book captures the struggles, heartbreak and determination of 10 students who overcome the odds, graduated high school and whose lives are now on a path for success in ending generations of poverty. The young people featured were forced to navigate around the practical realities of today’s most relevant social issues including poverty and homelessness, physical and emotional abuse, immigration, sub-par health care and struggles with addiction.
Endorsed by the likes of Students First Founder Michelle Rhee, Former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, Washington Post Education Reporter Jay Mathews, and Former Chancellor of the New York City Dept. of Education Joel Klein, Voices of Determination tells the stories of 10 children who overcame extraordinarily difficult circumstances to get an education and ultimately become young adults able to create their own destiny. In this moving work, Chavous demonstrates that children can and will succeed if the educational system provides them with the opportunity to learn, and debunks the myth that children are a victim of their circumstance.
“Kevin introduces us to 10 remarkable young people who embody the determination and courage of the human spirit,” says Mayor Cory Booker, of Newark, New Jersey. “The remarkable people profiled in this book should inspire all of us to continue to fight for equal access to a high-quality education for all children to ensure they can achieve their highest dreams and potential.”
One of the students profiled, Chardi, grew up with constant physical abuse and neglect. Her mother was a drug addict and her father, who had a mental illness, was a well-known drug dealer prone to regular violent outburst. By the time she was five Chardi was used to seeing her dad pistol whip drug runners, and casually told her teacher that she had seen her father shoot a man in the head. The major turning point in Chardi’s life was the day her father tried to kill her entire family by running them off of a bridge. Despite the horrors of her childhood, two of her middle schools teachers noticed Chardi’s drive and determination to gain an education and escape her surroundings. With their help, she ended up attending a prestigious boarding academy for girls, where she excelled in her studies, graduated, and is now attending college.
The focus of education reform in America is centered too much on policies and not enough on our kids,” says Kevin Chavous, the book’s author. “The students featured in my book remind us that they can do better if we engage them directly; and not let process or lengthy debates paralyze us from helping a child today, not tomorrow.”
In addition to the individually heart-wrenching and poignant stories, Voices further drives home the sobering fact that there are potential challenges at every stage of a child’s development and the adults around them need to pay attention and to act effectively. Chavous concludes that the need to strengthen families and rebuild surrounding communities should be the top priorities for society as a whole.