This has become my NBA week. No, not because of the NBA championship games between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs. (I haven’t seen any of the 6 games played so far). You know I love sharing stories that crush stereotypes by celebrating those who are thriving and not just surviving, right? Well, this is my NBA week because I learned about two NBA powerhouses who have dedicated their lives to supporting youth. On Sunday I had the pleasure of hearing an enlightening Father’s Day message from Etan Thomas and on yesterday I heard Derek Anderson’s inspiring interview on the Tom Joyner Morning Show (audio).
Roland Martin began an introduction about a boy abandoned by his parents at 11 years old and responsible for his own survival. While shuffling from place to place he became a teen dad at 14 and was tasked with a second person to provide for. This young man worked two jobs, continued in high school, and played basketball because of the support and mentoring provided by a community of caring adults. Derek graduated high school and went on to college.
I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about my religious views (I’m a Christian) but today I want to share the Father’s Day message that was presented at my church on yesterday. Mr. Etan Thomas delivered a powerful “call to action” to adults challenging us to reach out to and embrace our youth. Prior to yesterday, I had no idea that Etan Thomas is a husband, father, author, speaker, and community activist who played professionally in the National Basketball Association. Etan was raised by his mother in a single parent home but never fell victim to the stereotypes and tragedies in his community.
Since releasing his second book,Fatherhood Rising To The Ultimate Challenge, last year, Etan has traveled the US empowering young people with the message that they can be anything they want to be in life despite their current circumstances. He speaks in middle and high schools, colleges, prisons, and to professional and social justice organizations.
I was “flipping” through my blog and realized that I use quite a few different adjectives to describe teens in foster care. Brave, awesome, and resilient are the first adjectives I rediscovered. I said it and I mean it. I am on a mission to change societal attitudes and behaviors as it relates to youth in care. Negative statistics and negative stereotypes of all teen are prevalent but they are extra potent when it comes to teens in care. fortunately, I am not tackling this mission alone.
Today I want to say THANK YOU to all the amazing Foster Parents, Adoptive Parents, foster care agencies, adoption agencies, Social Workers and Case Workers, mental health professionals, Advocates, and Foster Care Alumni who are making the world a better place — not just for youth in care but for all of us. THANK YOU to our SPOTLIGHT Teen of the Month honorees who stepped up as role models and shared their personal testimonies to show that teens in care are succeeding on their own terms.
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I saw the first episode of Family Addition with Leigh Anne Touhy this past Friday and the second episode of The Fosters on Monday. The question that I asked myself after each television show was “Did this make me want to help a child in the foster care system?” I am a very critical viewer and the verdict is still out on both shows.
One way to eliminate negative stereotypes about children and teens in foster care is to share stories of successful placements, thriving young people, and well-rounded foster care alumni. Our SPOTLIGHT Teen of the Month feature aims to eliminate negative stereotypes of teens in foster care and show that when given support and encouragement young people can change the world.
Join us in the celebration. Nominate a teen in foster care that is leading a life of promise and making a positive impact in his or her community for SPOTLIGHT Teen of the Month today. Nominations are accepted on a continuous basis. #STOTM
You Might Also Want To Read: SPOTLIGHT on Manuella
Do you have knowledge in the areas of child welfare, juvenile justice, life skills development, or positive youth development?
Would you like to share your professional expertise with The Teen Toolbox community?
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
The Teen Toolbox is seeking guest bloggers. Interested candidates should send an email with the subject heading “Guest Blogger” to info (at) theteentoolbox (dot) com that a brief bio and writing sample that is 400 words or less. Please specify what topic you want to blog about. You will be given credit for the blog post which includes a link to your website or social media page.
GUEST BLOGGER IMMEDIATE NEED:
- Gang-involved youth in the foster care system
- theft/stealing and foster care
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QUESTION OF THE DAY? What Would You Do If You Knew That You Could Not Fail?
REMEMBER: Success Is The Only Option
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There are over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States. There have been many big screen and made for TV movies about the struggles of children in the system. The most famous movie (and one of my favorites) is The Blind Side. National Foster Care Month has ended but foster care is back in the spotlight with a television series on ABC Family called The Fosters. The Fosters is an ethnic mix of biological and foster children being raised by two mothers. Get your attention yet?
Many, many people in the foster care and adoption community were glued to their television sets on Monday night for the premiere. I missed the first episode but no worries — it will replay on ABC Family, it is available to view online, and it will be available On Demand soon. I will definitely be tuning in.