Greetings from Seaside! We've been in Seaside for about a month now. We've been training and doing all of these crazy events. So far, we've worked with NRCYD (the National Research Center for Youth Development), I've done three transition panels (in the Oregonian towns of Coos Bay, Tillamook, and Astoria), and we had the South Carolina Teen Conference. All have been generally successful We rocked them all All-Star style!!
I won't go into a whole lot of detail about all of our events because, well frankly, I could go on and on but I will go into some. My first, fourth, and fifth events were all panels. The panels were in the Oregonian towns of Coos Bay, Tillamook, and Astoria. The six hour drive to Coos Bay was simply breathtaking. The Pacific Ocean is beautiful. All three panels were very successful and I think our audiences of foster parents and foster youth responded well to what we had to say. Thinking over all three of the panels, I believe my favourite one was the one in Astoria. This one was the one who had the most foster youth attendees and this was also the one where the better questions were asked. For instance, there was the foster parent who was clearly struggling with some of the foster youth she takes care of and she asked several questions of how to approach the different situations. It was truly awe-inspiring how much this woman cared for the youth who she takes care of; I wish we had more foster parents like her. If we had more marvelous foster parents who truly cared for what was best for their kids and who tried to assimilate them in their family the way this woman does, I think that more foster youth would have a better foster care experience and would also have supportive adults who would stick around after they aged out of care. We also had two events we went to last week. We worked with the NRCYD, or National Research Center for Youth Development, in Tulsa Oklahoma and we had the South Carolina Teen Conference in Colombia, South Carolina. The NRCYD did different activities with us to help us realize our potential, what we have to offer, and how facilitating is different that presenting something or training someone. I do a lot with social media back home so I made a social media reference to the differences between facilitating, presenting, and training to help me remember what we were taught. A presenter is like a newspaper, they provide basic information with little to no room for feedback. A trainer is like a webinar, they provide more in depth information with some room for feedback. A facilitator is like a discussion board, they provide background information to help spark and foster a discussion from the participants. The South Carolina Teen Conference was an equally rewarding experience for me. I helped facilitate two different workshops, Sibling Connections and Youth Speak. Sibling Connections is about the importance of maintaining sibling bonds, or connections, while in care. Overall, I believe that the workshop went well. My co-facilitator, Leah, and I looked at the evaluations that the youth turned in afterwards and, on one, this girl wrote “I learned I have rights.” This was and is a powerful statement. It was exactly what we came to South Carolina for. To have helped a girl realize some of her rights as a foster youth is a BIG thing. From my experience, and the experiences of other foster youth I’ve had the opportunity to speak with, I have noticed that, as a collected whole, we do not know most of our rights and, because of this ignorance, we often lose opportunities that we do not know we have and, at times, can be “bullied” into doing things that we are told we have to do but, in all actuality, do not have to do.
Even though we've been hard at work, we have had time for fun stuff too... Tune in next time to hear some of the fun stuff!!!