Follow Your Heart
“Follow your heart, pursue your dreams,” Danquell Bradford tells a group of Roxbury teenagers at a celebration for the Youth & Police Partnership (YPP), a collaborative program between an inner-city teen group and the Boston Police Department.
The founder of fashion apparel company Dani & Dan’quell (D&D), Danquell surely speaks from her own heart, articulating a personal and business philosophy that celebrates individuality and inclusiveness and stretches across traditional culture, age, gender and sexual orientation.
Danquell's inspirational message to youth and adults is welcomed by schools, inner-city programs and community groups. She articulated her ideas on a recent “Centro” show with Yadires Nova-Salcedo on WBZ-TV Channel 4. http://boston.cbslocal.com/video/10290737-centro-dd-design-fashion-that-gives-back/
“You are on a life journey,” she tells the Roxbury teens. “And how positive and strong and important that journey is depends on YOU!”
Danquell stresses the importance of accepting yourself and others as individuals with unique ideas, strengths and weaknesses. She urges the teens to respect themselves and one another. “Self-respect is the base you build on for the future,” she points out. “It forms the groundwork for all of your future social and professional ventures.”
“This is an outstanding program, bringing you together with members of the Boston Police Department who care about you, who care about your families, who care about your neighborhood,” she says. “I am honored to be here today to share this celebration with you. Together with the BPD members who have served as teachers and mentors, you can work to help solve the issues confronting your community.”
Danquell notes that often the Roxbury community and its residents are often plagued by drugs, alcohol, violence, health problems, health care disparities, poverty.
“But there are so many good things in this community too,” she states. “There are people and organizations with your best interests at heart. You need to know who they are and reach out to them. You need to be part of the building of a better community.”
“I’m here to inspire you to rise above the difficulties,” she continues. “It may not be easy, but keep your eyes on the prize, pursue education at all costs, keep connected with positive teachers, mentors, such as those you have met through this outstanding program.”
She tells the students how she took a risk and followed her heart to found the D&D fashion company. “I love fashion,” she said. “But this company – this dream I have had forever – is more than fashion. It reaches out to spread acceptance and inclusiveness and social awareness in our community and beyond. It’s exciting!”
She points out how D&D is dedicated to giving back to the community, particularly through its philanthropic design line, United Synergy or “US.” She urges the youth to find ways to contribute to their neighbors and neighborhood, to give back, to volunteer and help others. “Join in that neighborhood clean-up or offer to cook meals at a homeless shelter. Giving back is healing. It paves the way to better things.”
“I hope you will set career goals and forge your way to achieving them,” she tells the teens. “I urge you again to pursue education against all odds. Your education can never be taken away from you.”
“You may live in a community where violence and poverty make the headlines, but there are families, friends and teachers who will provide support and guidance when the going gets tough. Make sure you stay connected with them. And above all, follow your heart and pursue your dreams.”
By Susan Kooperstein