Saturday, August 27, 2016
Link to slideshow of more pictures from our second youth leadership retreat at Paradise in the Sky: https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipMGlHXL7O3Lp46ggoltMgs1a4kbfSqYF1elbewH0kMF4qmN7OvCNWqbadtiXANffA/photo/AF1QipOzx3vnbgRbatMxJQ-0XV6A6Cx_kC56JB5xgNnM?key=S29kNFNHdzNoVTBRNjVuNkhZaXYyOVFLN0diR1RB
Thursday, August 4, 2016
Foster care youth and alumni recently gained insight on the legislative process during the Three Days on the Hill event in Washington D.C. FCCS was represented by 19-year-old Akire Thomas, president of the agency’s Youth Advisory Council and Regina Douglas, director of FCCS’s Therapeutic Arts Program. “The trip was designed to provide attendees an opportunity to learn how to improve the lives of current and future foster youth by advocating on the state and federal level,” said Douglas.
After participating in training about lobbying with national experts from the Annie E. Casey Family Program, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the National Center for Housing and Child Welfare, the youth used their new skills and personal insights concerning the foster care experience to develop arguments for positive change. Then they met with state and federal legislators from Ohio and shared their concerns—the chief concern being homelessness among youth after aging out of foster care. Participants also attended a briefing on the Voices of Youth Count on Capitol Hill, which is a youth-led survey of homeless youth taking place in 22 counties across the country.
Being able to participate in the legal process as authorities on the foster care experience was an enriching experience for the youth who attended Three Days on the Hill. Former FCCS youth and current Starfish Alliance Vice President Jamole Callahan attended and felt the event was very educational. “The participants learned how policies and laws come into being, as well as how to effectively advocate for those who are voiceless,” he said. Akire felt empowered by the experience. “I’m inspired to advocate more for youth, especially teenagers who need support. I can also be patient about the process of making changes, since I now understand it better,” she said.
Learn more about the Franklin County Youth Advisory Board.
After seven weeks of intense training, the interns attended the Oregon Teen Conference, where Hatch shared keynote speaking duties with another youth. He also participated in planning and facilitating foster youth conferences in Portland, Oregon and Tacoma, Washington. He will continue to participate in similar conferences throughout the year.
Hatch enjoys sharing his personal story and encouraging youth who are transitioning out of foster care. “I want them to know that they all have a place in life, regardless of their circumstances or history,” he said. “They can reach their goals.” When asked what he’s gained from the internship, Hatch said, “I think I’ve learned to have patience with people and listen to different points of view…I’ve also learned how to travel.”
While Hatch spent more than eight years in foster care, he has been able to take advantage of many opportunities available to him, including receiving FCCS’s 2014 Jack Donahue Scholarship, as well as his current internship. He is currently entering his third year at Wright State University, where he is majoring in psychology and is president of the Black Student Union, as well as a member of Kappa Alpha Psi. Hatch enjoys writing and performing poetry in his spare time.