At just 18 years old, Harry Jacob Nelson could be described by those who know him best as courageous, bold, and wise. Most often, this character is revealed when it counts the most. But anyone who encounters him would tell you that passion is what one would notice first about him. Ask him about your favorite movie, and nine times out of ten, he’ll be able to tell you the year it was produced, who it was directed by, and the starring cast members – all from memory! You don’t have to get to know Jacob to learn about his passion. You will walk away knowing movies are his “favorite thing in the world.” He says a few of his favorite activities at the Club are watching movies and YouTube videos on the computers.
Jacob can recall nearly ten years ago, when he began attending his Boys & Girls Club at just 8 years old, being very nervous and having trouble communicating. At school, he had an even harder time learning and would often get frustrated.
The support he received from staff at his Club and mentors at school made all the difference. He says, “The ones who believed in me are the ones I remember the most.”
According to Jacob, Mr. Anthony Smith, his Club’s program director, played a huge role in helping him come out of his shell.
“Over the last year, especially, Mr. Anthony has given me new opportunities and mentored me so I would be successful.”
One of those opportunities was working as a Jr. Club staff last summer. His responsibilities included assisting with Club operations and facilitating field trips and activities. Despite school being back in session, he continues to volunteer daily at his Club.
Jacob also participates in Passport to Manhood, a program which brings teen males together to talk about team-building and good choices, and Keystone Club, a service and leadership group aimed at teaching teens the power of their voice and the value of giving back. Determined to be a voice for the voiceless and help make the world a better place, Jacob believes it’s important for teens to speak up in their community to put an end to bullying.
Jacob could be described by many as a trailblazer. Jacob is autistic. And he wants the world to know people with autism can do a lot more than what many believe is possible.
His favorite quote was said by Dr. Temple Grandin, an internationally known advocate for autism awareness – “I am different, not less.”
This is why he has grown to love his Club – he feels he can be himself. He can be around those who believe in him.
After high school, Jacob would like to study at the University of West Georgia and pursue a career in the film industry.