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By Asia Mangum

Kelsee Ford, 16, believes everyone should have a voice, and use it for good. “Everyone has a voice and an opinion. … (But) if it is intentionally offensive, then it shouldn’t be said,” she said.

A Jackson native, Ford lived in New Orleans once for a month before coming back home. Here, she plays basketball and tennis, and loves music. As she starts the 11th grade next year at Murrah High School, Ford has decided she wants to be a music therapist when she grows up. “I want to help people through music like it helps me,” she says. Ford adds that she also wants to be an entrepreneur because she likes to be in charge.

Ford works hard to maintain a positive energy, although she has faced tragedy. “My biggest challenge was coming to the ninth grade without my friend Darius,” she says. He passed away the year before.” Darius, aka Oreo, was in the eighth grade when he collapsed at track practice.  

Her sister and her best friend are Ford’s best influences. “My best friend Gabrielle has influenced me the most,” she says. “I was really shy in the ninth grade, and she brought me out. My sister Dariah brings positivity into my life because I can’t stand negative energy.” 

Ford is at the Youth Media Project because she wants young people to be portrayed in a better way. She believes there are kids who do good things, but it doesn’t get mentioned in the media. She is also involved in JROTC at Murrah, and is the battalion executive.

Mississippi is a mixed bag for Ford: She likes some things, but not others. “I like that it is a lot of history to learn from here. Especially civil-rights history,” she says. “I dislike the negativity, the media and the way the money is used here. Also, I don’t like the roads and the education system.” 

Ford wants to help change the state’s shortcomings, however, by finding and reporting solutions. She hopes and believes that she isn’t the only one who wants to help make Mississippi a better place. “I want to get more people involved to help out,” she says.