Community Spotlight August 2019
Driving Youth to Unlock their Potential
by Jen Iamele Savage
Charleston native Anastatia
Ketchen went to school seeking independence, but along the way, life happened,
and she found herself stuck. "I was in a very dark space and felt all
alone,” says Ketchen. “I eventually started speaking to other women and learned
I in fact was not alone in feeling this way. I then reflected and remembered
one of the most impactful times in my life and what I was missing at this
particular time; a support system."
Ketchen had previously served as an outdoor wilderness counselor and teacher. She became quite passionate about working with youth and their families and saw the results of consistent therapy, community service, team building and self-discovery firsthand. Seeing how individuals were transformed, Ketchen wanted to continue this work and help make an even larger impact on the community.
"I literally packed up and picked up the pieces of me, loaded up my car with what I had, my child and myself. I decided I was going to start again. I am determined to be that support system for myself and others. I want to provide that needed encouragement to help everyone unlock their potential and discover themselves," she advises.
In the midst of this transition, Ketchen started several programs, including D.R.I.V.E.N., LLC, the nonprofit FORHER, INC; and another grassroots nonprofit, UP (Unlocking Potential).
Using creative and performing arts, D.R.I.V.E.N. hosts events, workshops and speaking engagements that provide resources to build up young girls and women to become self-sufficient and confident in order to prevent domestic violence and heal those that survive it. The UP program also uses the power of art to provide expressive outlets for young people. Ketchen works tirelessly, especially in our Gullah Geechee community. She hopes to ensure all youth have access to equal quality education and combat the school to prison pipeline through restorative justice practices.
The New Israel Christian School, in downtown Charleston, features two UP youth-painted murals created to inspire and heal the community.
For more information about D.R.I.V.E.N. and UP, visit TogetherWeShall.com and
Jen Iamele Savage is an author, teacher and coach. For more information, visit InspirationAndBliss.com.