Friday, January 21, 2011

2011 Ohio YAB Officers Retreat

The 2011 Ohio YAB Officers Retreat took place on Saturday, January 15, 2011 at the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

 9:00 am – 10:00 am, Review Ohio YAB Strategic Plan (Adrian McLemore)
10:00 am – 10:30 am, Oath of Office for Ohio YAB Officers (Adrian McLemore)
10:30 am – 11:00 am, ODJFS Funding for YABs: Logistics (Doris Edelmann)
11:00 am – 11:30 am, Business Cards for Officers (Cieria Rodriguez-Toney)
11:30 am – 12:00 pm, YAB Officer Training and Development (Lisa Dickson)


1:00 pm – 2:00 pm, Polls, focus groups, CRB, OH Bulletin (Lisa Dickson)
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm,  Ohio’s $8 billion deficit and advocacy (Doris Edelman)
3:00 pm – 3:30 pm, Regional outreach, YAB promotion (Adrian McLemore)
3:30 pm – 4:00 pm, Media Outreach, Technology (Alex McFarland)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Presidential Address

Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio Youth Advisory Board

We exist to be the knowledgeable statewide voice that influences policies and practices 
that affect all youth who have or will experience out of home care.

I’d like to start out by saying how excited, as well as honored I am to serve as your President of the Ohio Youth Advisory Board.

I want to remind each of you that we are a board of people who are concerned and motivated to serve you and those brothers and sisters of ours that are still in care or aged out and for the future youth to come.

With that being said, I cannot stress enough that we are just the face of this board, and that you and the others we speak out for are the strong heartbeat that truly matters to us and keeps us going.

As President, I personally vow to stay as knowledgeable as possible for the advancement of foster care into a better tomorrow. I will advocate for all needs no matter how small or large the obstacle may seem.

With a new year and new administration ahead, I would also like to take this time to invite ideas from every youth member of the board, as well as adult supporters.

I’d like to thank each adult supporter in advance for supporting the needs of your youth, as well as the vision of Ohio Youth Advisory Board, and look forward to working with you and appreciating your individual areas of expertise.

Please feel free to contact me with any concerns or thoughts you may have. I would like to reiterate that I look forward to leading as your president during this New Year ahead.

~ President Cieria Rodriguez-Toney

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Spotlight on Ohio Youth: Danny Taylor

Danny Taylor has a long history of involvement in foster care advocacy, including his involvement in Cuyahoga County’s Teen Advisory Group (TAGyc) and Ohio’s statewide foster care youth advisory board (Ohio YAB).

Danny's strongest skills are creativity and communication. Danny could walk into a room of strangers, and make every person in that room feel at ease. He has the ability to connect with and communicate with people of all ages and backgrounds.

During the time that Danny served as Media Spokesperson for Ohio’s statewide youth advisory board, he was asked to figure out a way to share his communications skills with other youth. Danny responded by creating this diagram:

Danny’s diagram, the Taylor Model, has been shared on a statewide level, and proved to be helpful in facilitating positive communication between youth and social workers, youth and foster parents, and during roundtable meetings discussing permanency/independent living.

As Danny explains it, “When I come to the table, I don’t expect to do all the talking. I’m willing to listen, too. And I will respect the role and responsibilities that you have. But I’d like to have at least one-third of the say at the table – because your decisions directly impact my life and my future.”

Similarly, during Ohio’s NE Thanksgiving dinner for teens in foster care and emancipated youth, Danny shared a poem he had written about what holidays are like for youth after emancipating from foster care. His words resonated with attendees:

Chew on this... you look left and right and see empty chairs
You talk about fun times over the year but silence only fills the air
You slouch down in your chair and no one scolds you and makes you sit up
A plate hits the floor and no one tell you to get up

I know. Hard to imagine, yet crazy as it seems
This is reality for some, at times even myself
To lie to myself and say all I need is me
No dinner on the table... just another day I'm thankful for being able to see more misery

Grateful for feeling unwanted and not feeling a part of the family
Knowing and having it shoved in my face like the dressing
Stuffed like a turkey of thoughts so depressing
It shouldn't be like this!

Why is it like this?
Why can't I connect with you? Why can't you connect with me? Why is it like this?
How come my yams aren't so sweet?

In addition to capturing the struggle of holidays spent without a forever family, Danny’s poem also spoke of humor, hope, and resilience:

Who said anything about misery?
I'm all smiles and giggles, come look at me
Looky! Looky! I got collard greens
And never had zucchini bread until I had some from the wonderful lady
Every time I take a bite, I savor the flavor and think how much better it tastes around everyone….

These stanzas capture the heart of Danny’s upbeat personality. Throughout every challenge I have seen him face as an emancipated foster youth, including having his wisdom teeth come in when he lacked medical insurance, Danny has displayed perseverance and a positive attitude. I am proud to know him, and to be able to stand side-by-side in our efforts towards foster care advocacy and building up the community of current and former foster youth here in Ohio.