Grit – Chasing the Dream the Extra Mile

Simply having a dream and working for that dream are two very different things. Kenneth Brown knows this well. He doesn’t just have a dream: he owns it with every fiber in his being. Kenneth Brown has grit. That, combined with the support of I Have a Dream Foundation – Los Angeles, means he will succeed.

Kenneth has been successful in many areas — in academics, karate, basketball, and music. He succeeds at most everything in which he determines to succeed.

However, he’s no stranger to obstacles. Kenneth has autism and has had to overcome obstacles in socializing with those around him and reading their verbal and non-verbal cues. However, he tackles these obstacles in the same way he tackles all other obstacles: he leans in and goes after it.

“He has made improvements in this area since joining the program in the spring of last year,” says Chaznae Walker, program coordinator. “He enjoys attending all IHADLA field trips as well as interacting with the other Dreamers.”

Dreamer Kenneth Brown and his Program Coordinator, Chaznae Walker, after his recent concert with ICYOLA

This determination to achieve his dreams is also how Brown became one of our Inglewood Dreamers in the first place. When 10 spaces opened up for Dreamers within the foundation, Walker announced the openings to all 7th graders at Century Community Charter School in Inglewood. Brown took initiative and approached her after the meeting, introducing himself and saying he would do whatever it took to become a Dreamer.

“It almost brought tears to my eyes, because I saw how much he wanted it; and since joining the program, he has been an exceptional student,” says Walker. “We’re truly blessed to have him as a Dreamer in our foundation.”

Kenneth’s grit and talents don’t only inspire those in the “I Have a Dream” Foundation. His impact extends to everyone who has been inspired by the sounds of the Southeast Symphony or the Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles (ICYOLA).

IHADLA student Dreamer in concert
The Inner City Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles recently performed their season opening concert at Knox Presbyterian Church.

Kenneth has been playing music since he was banging on a piano in his grandfather’s lap as a little boy. When he was 4 years old, his grandmother, a retired music teacher, enrolled him in piano lessons. He continued with these until he was 9 years old, when he decided to start playing trumpet with Southeast Symphony (SESA).

He now plays with both SESA and ICYOLA and is the only horn player in his church’s band. He’s had opportunities to play concerts monthly with ICYOLA, where his fellow band members perform with artists such as Robin Thicke and play in the USC Marching Band. At the end of this school year, Kenneth and his fellow performers are scheduled to perform a “Tribute to Motown” at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Participating in sports and orchestras and taking honors classes is a heavy load for a junior high school student, but Kenneth has big dreams, and he’s going to chase them.

“When you ask Kenneth about the future, he says, ‘I want to be a NBA basketball player, and I guess a musician if I don’t make it to the NBA,’” says Karla Brown, Kenneth’s mother.

During our last Dream Big Event, Kenneth Brown spent time with his Dreamer pen pal from our program in Watts.
During our last Dream Big Event, Kenneth Brown spent time with his Dreamer pen pal from our program in Watts.