The Heart Gallery, which exists online as an interactive exhibit, was birthed in 2009 out of a collaboration between The Children’s Trust and Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe. It aims to “find forever families” for foster children who cannot safely be returned to the custody of their biological parents.
This is Giovanni's story, in his own words:
My real name is Giovanni but they call me Gio just for short.
Q: Does everybody call you Gio?
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Q: How old are you?
Gio: 13 and in eighth grade.
Q: So you’re about to go to high school, are you excited about that?
Q: What makes you excited about going to high school?
Gio: It’s exciting to me. I’m going to be in a school with a bunch of other kids, I’m going to be playing for the football team. I’m going to be happy.
Q: So tell me about that, how long have you been playing football?
Gio: I started late, because I was moving a lot so I started late. I started playing around 10 years old.
Q: So you’ve been playing for three years. How was your season this year?
Gio: It was OK. We went off 7 and 3.
Q: I hear you have a special trainer, is that right?
Gio: Yes. His name is John St. Clair, he played for the NFL for about 11 years and he retired at around 2011.
Q: How did you meet him?
Gio: I was in this little thing called Victorious Boys Symposium, it was like a little group for young black men that they go to events and do stuff for us and take us places.
Q: Nice, what else do you like about school besides football?
Gio: I like my learning. I don’t like boring teachers. I like when the teachers have excitement and make learning fun.
Q: Because it makes you excited about learning. What do you think you want to be when you grow up?
Gio: I want to be a business owner and I want to do clothing, all unisex.
Q: Tell me about that, have you just always been into clothes?
Gio: Yea and I draw a lot, I like to draw people with nice clothing on.
Q: So like a fashion designer?
Q: Do you like music?
Q: What kind of music do you like?
Gio: I like rap.
Q: What artists?
Gio: I like Future. …There’s one named Famous Dex, he is different from a lot of artists. He’s got red dreads.
Q: Nice, if we told you that we had a plane waiting for you and your friends, where would you go?
Gio: California. I heard that it’s beautiful down there.
Q: Do you have any pets?
Gio: I used to have a dog but not anymore.
Q: What kind of animals do you like?
Gio: I like anything four-legged, the only two-legged animal I like is a bird.
Q: If I asked your friends, how is Gio… what would they say?
Gio: They’ll tell you I’m funny.
Q: You have a great smile too, I’ll throw that out there. What do you dream about?
Gio: About being in the NFL and having a good family.
Q: Nice, what would be the perfect family?
Gio: I want to be married with a son and daughter. I want my wife to have an Infiniti and for me, a Rolls Royce.
Q: I like that. What makes you happy?
Gio: To be with someone I like being around. If I have a good friend, I like to be around him or her.
Q: What do you do for fun with your friends?
Gio: We talk about what’s been going on, we talk about what’s trending, play basketball, play football.
Q: What do you like to eat? What’s your favorite food?
Gio: Sushi. The crab roll, it’s like spicy and it has rice and got a little bit of salmon.
Q: Do you put wasabi on it?
Gio: Yea, and soy sauce
Q: What season of the year do you like most?
Q: What makes Christmas so awesome?
Gio: I only like Christmas when I’m with my family, we all get together and party and just give each other stuff.
Q: What about college? What are you thinking about?
Gio: I want to go to this college, University of Miami.
Q: Why do you think you want to come to UM?
Gio: I like the football team and the campus and there’s a lot of good stuff about the classes and majors.
Q: If you could have any superpower, what would you have?
Gio: Telekinesis…because you can do a lot with it. Fly and pick up stuff. Do a lot of stuff you can’t do.
Q: Who are your role models?
Gio: Superman because he doesn’t use his power for bad and he doesn’t kill. Obama because he’s someone you could look up to, he’s African-American and one of the first to be the President. And Martin Luther King, I like him because he had a dream to have peacefulness.
Q: Any other role models?
Gio: My brother, he never gave up on his dream. Even though he didn’t make the draft, he’s still trying to go to the NFL.