David Adekoya is one of STATE Bags’ motivational PackMen. Well-equipped with inspirational tidbits, David is on the scene when STATE hand-delivers our backpacks through our GiveBackPack program. David and his fellow PackMen and PackWomen stand as living proof that good things will happen in life if you stay on the right path, regardless of your circumstances.
We got the chance to chat one-on-one about the GiveBackPack program, the importance of education, staying positive in tough situations, and of course, courage.
STATE: What was it like growing up in East New York, Brooklyn?
David: It was a bit rough, given the environment, but it helped me to visualize at a young age what I didn’t want my life to look like.
STATE: What’s the one thing you wish kids growing up in similar neighborhoods like East New York knew or understood?
David: I want them to know that if you take your education seriously at a very young age, it can be a great tool for you as you get older.
STATE: And what about the kids who are in middle school or high school who might have goofed off a bit?
David: It’s never too late to turn your life around, you just have to want it. No one can want it for you. There must be a change from within that makes you say, “I want my life to be different or be better.”
STATE: You’ve been with us since the building stages of the GiveBackPack program. In your eyes, what is the best part of the program?
David: The biggest thing with STATE is keeping up continuity and not just being present for that moment in time when the kids are in front of you. The badge program allows kids to always be connected to us in some way, shape or form and makes the message of STATE something that lasts. It shows kids that it doesn’t just stop at getting the bag. It’s about making a larger impact on your community and from your community, making a larger impact on the world.
STATE: As a PackMan, you’re on the scene at every bag drop. What has been your favorite experience so far?
David: At the end of the bag drop at the Boys + Girls Club in Tampa, everyone was excited about getting their bags. A grandmother came up to me with her granddaughter and showed me her old backpack. It was very ripped and things were falling out. The grandmother said, “Thank you. This is very appreciated.” It was very touching.
STATE: We encourage kids to keep something that inspires them in their backpacks. Tell us, what do you keep in your backpack?
David: I keep a picture of one of my best friends from junior high school who unfortunately was murdered. We were inseparable and did everything together. But we graduated and led different lives. I was moving my life in a more positive direction but he started going down a negative path. Sometimes there are people in your life that you truly care about who are not doing positive things and you have to be able to find courage within yourself to stay on the right track. I wish I did more to bring him to a more positive path but I didn’t. I didn’t know how to help him without feeding into his negativity or distancing myself.
STATE: What do you now know about helping people you care about who might be going down a negative path?
David: You absolutely need a team. The more positive people you have in your life, the more united and strong your foundation is, the easier it will be to build yourself and someone else up. It requires a lot of self discipline to keep yourself from being pulled into the negative. You have to have the support you need from people who are positive so that you don’t lose hope or lose sight of what you’re trying to do for yourself when you are trying to help someone on a negative path.
STATE: It’s also easy to get caught up in life’s should’ve, would’ve, could’ves. What would you tell others in those situations?
David: Try not to have any regrets and try not to put yourself down. Try to use all of life’s experiences as an opportunity to grow and find the light in a dark situation. No matter what happens, never think “should’ve, would’ve, could’ve” just have the courage to move forward and keep trying no matter what.
STATE: Speaking of courage and in honor of Courage Week, what’s your favorite courage quote?
David: “Shoot for the moon because if you miss you’ll still be amongst the stars.”