Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Waking up at 6 a.m. every morning to help his three younger siblings get ready for school is the norm for East Lake resident Jeremiah “T.I.” Ballard, 15.
He makes sure his 6-year-old sister and brothers ages 5 and 4 are ready to catch the school bus by 7 a.m. After school, he also helps feed them and tuck them in before bedtime. His single mother needs his help, so he is learning early in life the skills it takes to be the man of the family. Jeremiah said he has always looked up to his grandmother, who taught him right from wrong.
Nicknamed “T.I.” because his friends say he resembles the famous rapper, Jeremiah is the August Leader of the Month for all Chattanooga Boys and Girls Club Centers. He is a freshman at The Howard School of Academics and Technology where he is enrolled in algebra I, chemistry, English and Spanish. He said he would like to enroll in the University of Tennessee at Knoxville after high school.
n How long have you been attending Chattanooga Boys and Girls Club?
In 2003 I started attending Boys and Girls Club. I moved to East Lake Courts that year. Boys and Girls Club was the cool place to go. I went there and I liked it.
n What do you like best about the Chattanooga Boys and Girls Club?
I like to play basketball at the club, hang out with friends and meet new people. This is my first time to be Leader of the Month.
n What has Chattanooga Boys and Girls Club done for you?
Boys and Girls Club has helped me a lot. If I was not in Boys and Girls Club I would probably be in jail or dead. Ms. [Cynetria] Watkins and Mr. [Charles] Anderson are my mentors. If kids cuss, then I tell them to stop that and to respect Mr. Charles.
n What is your favorite hobby and how does that translate to the Boys and Girls Club?
I like basketball. [He will play the sport at Howard this upcoming season.] When I walk in the club everyone wants me to play basketball. They look up to me. I’m working with the kids on all basketball skills. I shoot baskets with them and show them different moves.
n What advice do you give to fellow Boys and Girls Club members?
I tell kids to do good, try your best and never give up. The Boys and Girls Club motto is “Be Great.”
Chattanooga Boys and Girls Club East Lake Program Manager Charles Anderson said Jeremiah helps out a lot at the club. Jeremiah will be competing with other Leaders of the Month at the year’s end for the Chattanooga Boys and Girls Club Leader of the Year Award. The winner of the award will receive a college scholarship through the club.
“We try to give the kids options and somewhere to go other than hanging out in the streets,” said Anderson. “I went to Boys and Girls Club and Parks and Recreation growing up. It kept me out of trouble and busy. We try to keep them motivated to succeed.”