Van Brooks

I was a three-sport athlete who developed my love for football at the age of seven. Like a lot of kids from Baltimore City, I wanted to be a professional athlete. It wasn't until high school that I realized the real potential I had and the success I could achieve. This was also when I realized how close I was getting to playing football on a collegiate level and how this could transform my life’s trajectory. This change however came in a way I least expected. On September 25, 2004, at the age of sixteen, while attempting to make a routine tackle I broke my neck. As a result of this injury, I was initially paralyzed from the neck down, unable to talk, eat or feel.

In spite of this, I refused to let that prevent me from achieving my goals. I went on to graduate from Loyola Blakefield and later from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications; all the while still working hard at therapy. I finally saw the hard work and dedication pay off after eight years of intense physical therapy. On September 27, 2012, I can say I walked again. Since then, I've founded a non-profit Safe Alternative Foundation for Education and the SAFE Center youth facility. Additionally, I was appointed by Maryland's Governor Larry Hogan in 2017 to lead the Governor's Office on Service and Volunteerism. 

Safe Alternative Foundation for Education

I believe that students should have access to quality education and the resources and opportunities necessary for achieving their goals. I founded SAFE in 2012 with a mission to inform the youth about the importance of obtaining an education as well as having an alternate career plan in anticipation of life’s deviations. SAFE assist students in achieving academic success through educational programming and vocational exposure with real world application. To further this mission, I opened the SAFE Center, youth facility in 2015, to provide students with a variety of after school, weekend, and summer learning opportunities to explore the world outside of their communities that will ultimately aid the youth in realizing and unlocking their full potential. More about why I founded SAFE will be revealed later in one of my blog post. In the meantime, to learn more about SAFE and how you can support our youth click here Safe Alternative Foundation for Education