Copyright © Chozen Creativity L.L.C.. All rights reserved.
A Founder’s Inspiration: The Motivation Behind W.a.M.O.S .
By Jerard Chapman
Over the years, through traveling, exploring and the different life lessons, I have seen much, heard more and experienced a great deal. Through everything, I realized the truth behind Charles R. Swindoll’s quote: “Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”
By the age of 18, I understood that statistically 3 out of 5 males who looked like me would either be dead or in jail by the time they turned 25. I studied how the government strategically kept impoverished areas populated with minorities away from higher education, teachings and examples of what success looked like. I watched white women clutch their purses tighter as they saw me approach them. I experienced being pulled over by law enforcement due to the color of my skin. By the age of 20 I understood the tough truth of how America viewed me, and I so badly wanted to change that.
However, rap lyrics from Tupac, Wu-tang, and NWA did the exact opposite. I drove the streets of Aurora as a young man putting on a face of kindness, love, and pride… but say the wrong things and a quick rage transformed my face into hate, anger, and spite.
When I was 21 I was told by my college professor, Mr. Tom Flanagan, “good luck trying to make it in the world with your talent.” The things I had read, studied, and experienced on how America viewed me as a young black man had taken its deepest cut to my soul yet. I knew how some felt, but the audacity to say that to my face put me in an unexplainable mental state and it sent me into a downward spiral.
Years later, I found out that Tom had passed away due to terminal illness. All I could think about were the words he expressed to me in front of my other classmates. While residing on east coast I fell into a depression. I had relocated to chase a dream but found myself jobless, purposeless, and searching for identity. There were a few days when I had enough energy to overcome my depression, and I would take the little money I had and ride the metro through Washington D.C., with a goal of meeting 2-3 new people and learn about them. These people I met had such inspiring stories that it shifted my mindset and changed me forever!
This shift in my mindset changed my life. The part of me that died accepting Tom’s words for me had now changed into a voice telling me to prove Tom wrong… so I did. Again, and again, and again. Tom challenged and push me to be a better me, and those hurtful words kept the gas near my already burning fire. I quickly got to work!
A decade later I was a proud owner of my own art-based business, Chozen22 (now known as Chozen Creativity), that created and hosted non-traditional art shows for aspiring and professional artists across many different types of genres. I started these art shows based on the need to highlight these artists’ talents and provide them a platform outside of the limited, traditional art gallery experience, but that is another story for a different time. I had also initiated art internship programs within schools, coached many levels of boys' basketball, spent time working with children at LearningRX and most importantly, I had impacted many other peoples’ lives in a positive way. I had learned that no matter what anyone says, anyone thinks, YOU are in control of your destiny. I finally figured out what purpose, connections and relationships all meant, and nothing was going to stop me from fulfilling my God-given purpose.
Chozen22, created in 2012, was a launching pad that has allowed me to continue to pursue my passion for art and helping people since its inception. Chozen22 evolved into Chozen Creativity- a platform that allowed me to launch many community-based programs, including My Cause My Cleats. After running the My Cause My Cleats initiative with many Denver youth organizations and the Denver Broncos, I decided it was the perfect time to take it up another level and pursue launching my latest foundation.
Entering 2019, I wanted to teach others that no matter the task, anything is possible if you are willing to do the work. I desired to create a platform that empowers youth to use their differences as their strengths to overcome, and bring awareness to, mental health and worldly challenges. Additionally, I want to use this platform as an opportunity to educate and show others that you don’t have to fear someone just because you don’t understand them. I want to help others understand the meaning behind diversity; we are all so different and this is what makes us equal. Not only will this platform mentor and help at-risk youth overcome the challenges they face every day, it will also be a platform that allows us to present these challenges from their perspective, and give others the opportunity to walk a mile in someone else's shoes to understand what they are going through, and help find a solution to these issues.
To fulfill this desire placed in my heart, I launched the W.a.M.O.S. Foundation in 2019 and have partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver and Aurora Public Schools to begin its first after school program with at-risk youth in February 2020. To learn more about W.a.M.O.S. and the program, visit the foundation’s webpage.