Resilient – rebounding; recovering readily from adversity; returning to its original form after being stretched or bent
Do you recall your teen years with favor and joy? For many of us adolescence was a challenging time. Acne, raging hormones, peer pressure, and uncertainty plagued many of us. Although we may have had the body of an adult, our teen brains had not fully developed. Our views were shaped by other teens that were just as unsure of where they fit in the world as we were. We were stuck in an unfamiliar place — no longer children but not yet adults.
Stability and positive discipline help teens thrive. Rules and boundaries offer safety and security. Rules and boundaries also show teens that someone cares about their present and their future. The obstacles in adolescence are often magnified for youth who are a part of the foster care system. Think about it. Who do you trust when you are unsure of how long you will live in the place where you are right now? Who can exhibit patience and understanding to help you overcome abuse, abandonment, or apathy? Who do you believe really “has your back” when you have lived in 3 different places in the last year and a half?
What does “A Teen’s Life Is Worth Documenting” mean to you?
For a child in the foster care system it probably means those words that are written about them in their personal file. You know the file that precedes them at every meeting, placement, and court hearing. The file that attempts to explain the reason they entered foster care, the length of time in the system, the changes in schools, the number of foster placements, health concerns, and any mental health screenings and diagnoses. The file containing this documentation is extremely important right? Essential even?!
I’m not speaking of the file that documents the thoughts and judgments of countless social workers, lawyers, doctors, and educators and barely contains the views of the youth in foster care. The accomplishments, aspirations, and support systems in a teen’s life are worth documenting. Every teen is unique and full of promise and potential. My teens document their lives in a professional portfolio — a visual tool that gives employers, recruiters, scouts, and mentors a complete picture of who you are. I believe that a professional portfolio can be an integral element not only in building skills and confidence in youth but also in helping them develop and maintain crucial personal and professional connections.
Many people are compelled to donate gifts to children and youth in foster care during the Christmas holiday season (myself included). After the Christmas gifts are barely opened we shift our focus to how we will usher in a new year. A new year exemplifies a new chance to start fresh, another opportunity to change our lives for the better. People around the world make their lists of New Year’s resolutions. New Year’s resolutions are goals, projects, or kicking of habits that a person commits to in anticipation of a new year. Most people plan to stay committed to their New Year’s resolutions for at least the entire year but roughly 4 out of 5 people break their New Year’s resolutions, however.
Since 2007, JaMai has been collecting and delivering purses packed with personal care items to teenage girls in foster care, in group homes, and in homeless shelters. Her project is known as Pack A Purse Holiday Drive™. Although JaMai was away at school until early December and I was unable to handle the physical tasks of organizing our 5th Annual Pack A Purse Drive, 2011 was our best year ever. This year another sponsor, The Maids of Maryland, came on board. I want to take this opportunity to send a special thank you to The Maids of Maryland and Linda Crosby who were able to garner print and television media coverage and collect 578 purses at their host site. They also delivered over 200 of those purses. We would also like to send a shout out to Sabrina McLean who donated to Pack A Purse, served as a host site, and delivered purses to 3 organizations. Another heartfelt thank you goes to Cindy Freland who also donated to the holiday drive and served as a host site. A grand total of 735 purses were donated to the following organizations:
During a recent presentation, a high school student asked if she should wear her school uniform to her job interview at a fast food restaurant the following day. Here are the facts – the young lady has a half day schedule at school and the potential employer is aware that she is a student and instructed her to come right after school. My answer was that she shouldn’t wear her school uniform to her interview if she had the ability to bring a change of clothing to school with her and change into it in ten minutes or less.
Young people need to know how to truly “dress for success”. Have you explained to your youth that fabric, color, length, fit, and style matter? Just because a student is wearing a skirt or a pair of slacks doesn’t mean they’re dressed professionally. Whether interviewing for a part-time position, applying for seasonal or summer work, or attending a college fair students should dress “up” with the option of going casual later if the environment permits.