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Shaad’s Story – From New York to the Bay Area

Shaad’s journey with FLY began when he moved from New York to the Bay Area with his family. Starting fresh in a new school without any prior connections, he found his way to FLY through the Law Program in Alameda County. Discovering his rights and gaining insights into the law, Shaad not only learned how to navigate his own life but also found his place in the FLY community. His infectious smile and positive attitude naturally propelled him into a leadership role, prompting his participation in FLY’s Leadership Program.

Shaad’s commitment to leadership continued as he became a Peer Mentor, amplifying youth voices, aiding in case management, and sharing his own personal story. His involvement extended to leading program events, notably a Service Learning Project that involved assembling care packages for youth promoting positive mental health. When FLY expanded its programs into Contra Costa County, Shaad, having recently moved there, played a key role in launching the Leadership Training program and led activities during the retreat. As the FLY alumni representative, Shaad led the closing ceremony and bonfire activity—a FLY tradition where youth are presented with a special name and token that will symbolize their identity and journey ahead.

Not stopping there, Shaad joined a focus group and later became a founding member of the FLY Alumni Advisory Board (FAAB). Collaborating with fellow young leaders, he contributed to shaping the board’s vision. Shaad’s journey with FAAB allowed him to refine his leadership skills in teamwork, group presentations, and his ability to handle conflict resolution while facilitating activities.

Shaad’s positive impact extends beyond FLY’s programs. His enthusiasm for new projects, respect for diverse opinions, and his drive to get the work done have made him an asset. In the community, he continually participates in events, actively supported the execution of a holiday fundraiser, and even planned an entirely youth-led staff training session.

His growth with FLY has not only enriched the organization but has also shaped Shaad’s personal and professional path. With FLY’s support, he found fulfillment working with children on the Autism spectrum, where the qualities he honed at FLY contribute to building meaningful connections.

Even in challenging times, Shaad’s commitment shines through. Despite facing his own mental health struggles, he uses his experiences to advocate for improved mental health resources. Testifying before the California Board of State and Community Corrections in Sacramento, Shaad passionately urges for better facilities and resources for young people across the Bay Area and beyond. His dedication to helping others is truly commendable, making him a shining example of the positive impact that young people can have when equipped with the right tools and support, not just in their personal communities but on an even broader spectrum statewide.