Alabama Public Television Young Heroes of 2019

Justin Skelton

Winfield, Alabama
Winfield High School

Justin is a senior at Winfield High School. He was nominated as a Young Hero by social worker Mandy Mitchell, the executive director of the Free Will Baptist Children's Home.

"I have known Justin for almost eight years," she wrote. "He was placed at the children's home at the age of five, along with two of his older brothers. He came from a deplorable home situation."

Justin wrote of his difficult early years with his birth family. In short, he and his brothers dealt with abuse, drug addiction, and no financial support from his birth family. Eventually, he and his brothers were placed under the guardianship of his grandfather. Although he took legal responsibility for the children, Justin's grandfather could not physically care for them, so he brought them to the Free Will Baptist Children's Home.

Justin's grandfather passed away when Justin was 15-years-old. Subsequently, his older brothers grew up and left the children's home. "As a social worker," Ms. Mitchell wrote, "I have seen many children in Justin's situation feel abandoned and struggle with anger, depression and anxiety, often turning to the abuse of substances for comfort. Justin has never dealt with such issues. He understands that he is better off at the children's home than he was with his birth parents."

Justin maintains excellent grades. He is involved with SkillsUSA. SkillsUSA is a career and technical student organization serving more than 395,000 high school, college and middle school students and professional members enrolled in training programs in trade, technical and skilled occupations. In both 2016 and 2017, Justin was recognized with the second-place award during the ceremonies of SkillsUSA.

He is part of the leadership team for the Key Club and serves as the recorder for his school's chapter of the National Honor Society. With his church, he has made mission trips to Chicago and St. Croix, Virgin Islands. He also babysits the younger children, leads Bible study for the church youth group, and assists with "children's church." And if all these qualifications are not enough to earn Justin a place as an Alabama Young Hero, he also smokes barbecue at the restaurant where he works.

Justin took stock of the mistakes he observed in his early years and set himself on a different course. He is now on his way to becoming the first person in his family to attend college. "Justin is one of the most polite, helpful, caring and dependable young men you will ever meet," Ms. Mitchell's nomination concluded. "He has a constant smile on his face."

For his courage and extraordinary wisdom in the face of home and life difficulties, Justin is recognized by his school and our state as one of the five 2019 Young Heroes of Alabama.

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The Young Heroes Program is made possible through the support of:

Rosa Parks Museum
Blue Cross Blue Shiled of Alabama
Honda
Signs Now
Landers McLarty Chevolet
Medical Property Trust
Precision Graphics
SEI Group