(800) 765-3797 •  fsyr@youthranches.org

Blink and you’ll miss him! Jerrel, the lightning-fast, wise-beyond-his-years seventh grader at our Safety Harbor campus, is always active. Whether he is on his bike or running around the campus, Jerrel is always moving. When he joined the track team, he really began to shine.

“I was always running around,” Jerrel said in starting his story. “One of my friends at the Ranch said jokingly that I should try out for the track team.” He thought it might be something fun to do, but hadn’t expected to be the third-fastest out of all of the kids who tried out. “I would always try to run faster than my older brother, so I guess I’ve always been a little competitive.”

Two years later with numerous first- and second-place finishes under his belt, Jerrel is something of a track star, but he is humble about it all, reiterating that he just loves to run. To be on the track team, he has to maintain a pretty impressive GPA in all of his classes. His favorite subject is science. “I love that there is a method to it. I like seeing one thing be able to change into another.”

It’s no surprise that Jerrel is a fan of transformation. Since he came to the Youth Ranches, he has witnessed an incredible change in himself. “I was troubled,” Jerrel admits. “I was stealing, fighting. I was getting into a lot trouble.” He was at another children's home before he was given the opportunity to come to the Youth Ranch. “I was curious about the Youth Ranch, but I mostly wanted to come because I knew I would be safe,” Jerrel said. “My siblings were here already, so I knew I was coming to a place where I would be safe and protected.”

While he may have only been looking for a safe place to call home, Jerrel got so much more.

“It’s been amazing to see how much I can change even with just the power of words,” Jerrel said of his new attitude toward life since he came to the Youth Ranch more than three years ago. Work, Study, Play and Pray have been a daily part of his life at the Ranch and have definitely made an impact on this awesome young man. “The Ranch has taught me to grow. It is so great to look back at where I came from to where I am now and who I know I can be.” He still has a few years in school before he has to make any decisions about a career, but right now, he is looking at law enforcement — maybe even something like a SWAT team.

Jerrel plans to continue on the track team, but being as active as he is, he is looking forward to trying some new sports in the future as well. “I think I’ll definitely try out for football once I’m in high school and maybe even something like rugby,” he says with a smile. He does know one thing for sure, though: He will always keep running. “I like to put on my music and just go run to clear my head.” He adds, “It’s a time where I can just be with my thoughts.”

As fast as Jerrel runs, he still likes to slow down every now and then, and look at his journey and the transformation he has already made in his young life. “This is a great place to be,” Jerrel said. “I’ve changed so much and I know that I am safe. I am so grateful to get to be here.”