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A Contra Costa Youth Story: Ti

Building Connections
In 2022, our staff began working with Ti’kyel (or Ti for short), a young man from Contra Costa County. Ti was one of the very first participants in Contra Costa County’s STAY FLY Program and was connected with FLY prior to his release from juvenile hall.

Working with Ti has taught me the power of language and consistency.
Despite his initial hesitancy to meet, his story is a testament to the value of consistent support and the potential that opens up when genuine connections are created. It has been a pleasure witnessing this charismatic social butterfly spread his wings.

The Healing Power of Music
Beyond FLY, Ti shared his passion for music and how it works as a vehicle for self-expression and healing, allowing him to articulate the complexities of his upbringing and aspirations. The process of making music is something he is passionate about. Ti envisions becoming a renowned rapper as a means to wield his voice, earn recognition, and gain respect from peers. This talent also helps him address ongoing struggles, serving as a healthy coping mechanism discussed during our case management sessions.

Ti’s Impact on FLY
Working with Ti for the past six months has shown me the blazing light within our youth and proved that it is possible to truly shift the vision we have for ourselves, making any task seem like a small obstacle.

Every FLY staff member that has met Ti has commented on his radiating energy and charming personality. Having people in his life that point out and celebrate his many qualities has done wonderful things in boosting his confidence.

He actively participated in several staff interviews representing Contra Costa County’s youth, sharing his thoughts, and engaging in the hiring process. Ti’s readiness, presence, and insightful queries during these sessions consistently impressed us. In January, Ti agreed to join FLY’s Speech Committee—a step he admitted was “completely out of his comfort zone.” Despite his apprehension, he entered the space composed and engaged. His curiosity and confidence have him constantly realizing his potential and how much greatness is in store for him. Ti continually surprises us at FLY with his growth and courage to speak out.

Next Steps for Ti
Ti recently celebrated his graduation from Golden Gate Community School! He plans to find a good paying job and continue to pursue his dream of a music career. Ti aspires to have his music heard by the world one day, but in the meantime is focused on doing better for himself. We are so inspired by Ti—his curiosity and confidence drive him to explore his potential and embrace the greatness that lies ahead.

Written by Annelise Sotelo, Former Contra Costa County Programs Coordinator