a re-occuring theme in some of the training we've had at foster club lately has included identity and additude. Which in fosterclub lingo translates to "game face" as far as us All-stars are concerned. For some of the children we may encounter however, "game face" looks a lot different. It may look like a child or teen who doesnt want to participate at all, or is loud during a presentation. Iether way, what we present to the audience at large is a reflection of what we are trying to communicate. For the all-stars it is professionalism and advocacy. For some of the youth, it might be a host of things ranging from "dont look at me" to "pay attention to me, because no one else has".

For the youth we'll be meeting, game face means something different. I know it did for me when I was younger. when I was thirteen what I presented to the world was drastically different from now. It was dark clothes, dark makeup and a closed off personality. honestly I can say I had more to offer, but it was easier not to put myself out for other people to get to know me. Something one of the level two all-stars said really stuck with me, it was the idea of "running from yourself". I think many youth after not having a family identiy, moving to much to have anystable friends or connect with a culture are so confused about themselves that they dont know what they are.

Eventually foster kids can fall into the catagory of becoming whatever someone says they are. If you expect a child who is lost in the system with no anchor to a family or identity to be angry, they will be angry, because at least angry is something. No matter how flimsy the label, it is still a life line to an identity. So, like many other foster children, instead of being kayla, I was lost. I was angry. I was iscolated. Years were spent trying on all sorts of masks and labels trying to find one that could anchor me to something stable. "permanancy"...Can be an adult, a friend, a belief. But truly, if there is no you to connect it to, then it doesnt count for anything.

If I coult do one thing for some of the youth at these conferences, I hope it would be to give them the tools to find themselves, because I'm not sure how effective anything else I will be teaching them will be if they dont already have a foundation to connect it to. Maybe if given the opportunity I can develope a workshop on Identity. Till then I'm going to do my best to reach youth that may have this issue in other ways. I guess I'll be getting this opportunity starting monday, so here we go~

-Kayla V.

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