So I just got back from the "It's My Life" conference in Hollywood, California earlier this week and it was amazing! To start, the weather was beautiful! When I left Detroit, it was 28 degrees and in Hollywood, it was in the mid to upper 70's and low 80's! The weather provided an energizing start for the conference!
I was pleased to see so many young people in foster care and child welfare professionals together in one place. There were even a few foster parents that I saw who were actively engaged in the dialogue and activities of the conference.
Celebrities like Usher and Quddus from MTV even came out to show love to the foster kids, which was amazing! Dr. Phil and Robin even sent a message of encouragement to us all! In the end, I left the IML conference with a feeling of empowerment. Again, I come to these moments in my life (read my last blog) where I just want to do something.
So in my last blog, I told everyone to stay tuned to how I was going to help the foster care cause from a personal perspective. Right now, I am currently working on a committee to help create a support program for young people who have experienced the foster care system and are/will be attending the University of Michigan! This measure is really exciting because within the last year (with much emphasis placed on the last 3 months), the University of Michigan has recognized the foster care population as one that needs support from the university. I am proud to be apart of the planning process. I am sure that young people who matriculate through the foster care system and decide to come to the University of Michigan will not have to experience the struggles that I experienced due to a lack of resources and support.
As a 5th year senior at U of M, I know the traps and hardships that a lot of young people from foster care face while being on a college campus. From not having enough money to buy books to not having housing during school breaks or summer, and even not having money for food (at times), the college experience can be difficult. One of the most startling statistics that I have heard states that less than 2% of young people in foster care graduate from college each year! Less than 2%! That's disturbing to say the least more can be done to raise this number. I am hopeful that the small role that I am playing in the development process at U of M will help current and future foster kids that come here. Since I am on the verge of graduating, (MAY 2009) i look forward to seeing the impact that this support program will have on future foster kids!
So again, my challenge to you (YES YOU WHO ARE READING THIS) is to promote the foster care cause in your area in any way that you can! Get involved in foster care reform. You don't have to do alot, but do something. There is so much work to be done and I personally believe that there are enough people to do the work. However, there is just simply not enough people who are WILLING to do the work regarding foster care reform!
Remember, you can make a difference! If you don't think so, let the historic win of Barack Obama, (The first black President Elect in the United states) serve as inspiration to you!