4,000 to 6,000 youth on are the streets of Los Angeles every single night.
So often an adolescent's voice is never heard. As a result, they become disenfranchised by the very society in which they are supposed to be loved and supported. Our youth end up physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually abandoned becoming homeless, locked up, troubled, and addicted to an array of substances and lifestyles. They are broken hearted because no one believed in them and the possibility for their life.
Miguel Padilla's life is one example of the tragedy so many of our adolescents face today. Miguel was abandoned by his mother at a young age, neglected by his father, and suffered two horrific accidents in his lifetime which caused him to lose his right arm below the elbow and the sight in his left eye. Miguel was continuously teased by his peers for his disabilities and left isolated at school.
After being abandoned by his mother, Miguel was left in the care of his father who abused him and finally left him with his elderly grandmother who was not able to care for him. Miguel was then placed in Los Angeles County's child welfare system and lastly in the juvenile justice system due to behavioral issues.
Ultimately and unfortunately, while the 17-year-old was living in his final placement - a structured, therapeutic setting with sprawling grounds, Miguel ventured into the orchard, climbed into a tree with his one arm, and hanged himself with a noose he had made. His body was found nine days later by staff.
Miguel's life magnifies the plight of so many of our youth today living in a structure lacking heart and soul, which strips our children of any sense of self esteem and self worth. In an interview with a social worker Miguel professed, "I have a heart, I care about people." Miguel's voice cries out to be heard.
Miguel's life and the lives of the world's disenfranchised adolescents inspire the voice of L.O.V.E. Foundation. L.O.V.E. Foundation's voice is one of love and nurturing based upon the needs of our beloved children.