The Winner of the Wanda Poppell Annual Talent Show is…

talent show winnerThis year’s winner is Devin, who despite his nervousness in the company of other people, decided to be part of the annual talent show at Providence Place last December. He interpreted “Let It Snow” by Michael Bublé and everyone cheered him loudly. To his surprise, he was the top winner.

Each year, the Wanda Poppell Annual Talent Show celebrates the talents of our Center for Higher Independence (CHI) students. The popular event is a great way for students to express themselves and build self-esteem; every student is supportive, it’s a ‘no judgment’ zone.

“More than encouraging the students and letting them show their talents, it teaches them responsibility,” said Charles Morris, CHI Education Training Manager. “They have to practice and to commit to do it. Once they are done, they feel they have accomplished something significant”.

“Before coming to Providence Place, when I was in high school, I wanted to sing and be part of the choir. But even though I really wanted to, I just wasn’t able to do it,” said Devin. “I decided to concentrate on storytelling and my cartoons because I was too shy to be in front of an audience.”

Since Devin came to Providence Place, his behavior has changed. Even though he’s still anxious, he’s calmer, more positive and has expanded his horizons. Even though he continued to draw and to write stories, his best personal success came at the talent show.

“I wanted to do it because it was fun and I wanted to show my friends my talent,” said Devin. “I was excited to be part of it, a bit nervous but not really. When the song started, I just went with it. It was an awesome experience.”

Besides talent, one of the talent show judges said, other factors they consider are the degree of personal growth and progress on a student’s part and how large a step a student takes outside his comfort zone.

“Devin was fantastic,” said Charles. “When he first came here, he didn’t want to be part of anything much and was always on the sidelines. Now, he is participating in different projects, and got out there and won the talent show. I’m proud of him.”

Devin’s favorite activity is drawing – he does cartoons and worked on the cover of the talent show program and the CHI Christmas card. Just recently, his drawing was selected for Providence Place’s Valentine card, which will soon be mailed to about 6,000 recipients. The work, he says, makes him feel needed and useful.

“I’m so glad and proud to be part of CHI,” he said.  “In a way, I was locked up before. Now I feel more confident and ready.”

It helps, he says, to have a life motto he invokes whenever life gets him down or he starts feeling anxious.  “I just say to myself, ‘Stay strong, think positive,’ and I know I can overcome the impossible.”

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