My name is Paola and I have been a member of the Federal Way Boys & Girls Club since 6th grade. I am fluent in English, Spanish and becoming fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). The reason why I’m learning ASL is, well, I started to lose my hearing when I was 6 years old. Everyday since then, the world got a little quieter.

My parents brought me to the doctors where I found out that I would need to start wearing hearing aids for the rest of my life. They were large, expensive, and the color of them would stand out (not in a good way). Kids at school, on the bus and in my neighborhood bullied me. I would cry often and did not want to go to school.

When I started going to the Boys & Girls Club, I finally started feeling safe, happy and comfortable. The Club provided me a place to breathe and escape from the questions at home and the bullies at school. Throughout the time I was there, I met new people and started to become friends with them. This helped me build the confidence that I needed.

The Club staff was there to help me with my homework, build my confidence, and support me when I needed them most. When I graduate – which is soon – I plan to attend CWU to study law and receive my BA. Thank you for all my friends, Club staff, and my wonderful parents for helping support me.