Editor’s note: This is part of a series of collaborations with Las Fotos Project, an Eastside-based organization that inspires teenage girls through photography, mentorship, and self-expression.
‘Con Safos’ is a visual documentation project in which members of Las Fotos Project’s Digital Promotoras program use photojournalism and multimedia techniques to promote awareness of disparities and stigmas facing their communities. These stories address key issues such as gentrification, access to green spaces, security, physical wellbeing, and punitive school measures.
See other stories and read about the Con Safos project here.
This is Dorian Mendez, and he is a Sophomore at Mendez High School. When he was in the 7th grade, he was about to be expelled from Stevenson Middle School due to drug use and bad behavior in class. When the school called his parents, they explained he had other options if he wanted to stay in school. Dorian decided to try boxing, to release anger and to stay focused in class.
I went to Dorian’s boxing gym one night while he boxed for three hours. He was extremely focused and concentrated throughout the entire session.
I noticed a man helping Dorian and I asked, ” Are you his trainer?” He replied, ” I am his older brother Randy.” I was glad to see he has someone there to support him and help him go through his journey. At the end of the evening he did a couple of stretches to cool his body down properly.
“I started to box and it took a lot of my time and made me a really busy person. I didn’t have time to go around doing the stuff I used to do.”
Dorian told me his favorite quote: “You know my name, not my story. You’ve heard what I’ve done, not what I’ve been through.”
Randy told me that his dad was up at 3am and was at the gym until 8pm. Dorian began boxing and trying to improve his overall experience at school when he saw his parents cry.
It’s important for young people to have a hobby, or an outlet, to keep them occupied and out of trouble. Using restorative justice methods helps students heal from troubling experiences and to change their behavior for the better.
Take a look at this story on its Spark page.