Martin Levya: Don’t Ever Give Up

Martin Leyva did time for robbery but knew when he walked out of Chino State Prison he would never come back. He would transform his life. In a remarkable story, a blend of perseverance and the world opening up to show him his path, Leyva used his troubled past to become a beacon of hope for others in similar situations. He says, “The whole process [working with youth] feeds my fire for social justice because these youth are so important to our future — to everyone’s future. And youth are vulnerable. We adults have so much power over them– to make them or break them– and because so many people and institutions are threatened by them they use their power to break them. So when the youth get to a program like AHA! where they feel safe, where the adults are really committed to supporting and uplifting and empowering them, it changes the game. It changes how the youth see themselves –as inherently worthwhile people. Seeing them recognize their potential — even just getting a glimpse of it — feeds me.”

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