In a week, I can travel to a different state to help facilitate a conference for juniors and seniors in high school and transitioning future freshman in college. I can look at a hundred or so youth with a hundred or so unique stories of neglect, abuse, abandonment, hardship, but most importantly perseverance and triumph I can look into their eyes and see hope and their will to overcome the odds.
Statistics have decided that the odds are so much against these youth.
Their ACE scores are just too high. They can't. They won't. 50% of foster youth graduate high school, 10% of them pursue higher education, 3% of those actually graduate with a degree, and only 1% of them go on to pursue even higher levels of education.
Some professionals are resigned to facts and they believe that statistical oddities are not something to fight for.
I am here to say that is not an acceptable answer. Society can not write them off. They are so much more powerful than professionals can even understand. I have met 15 year olds with more knowledge, understanding, and ability than some adults that never went through the foster care system. No one is ever to be written off, these youth have the potential to be the most important people in the world. They carry with them the knowledge and understanding of someone centuries older than them. Some have raised children as 5, 6, 7 year olds, some have maintained household chores, jobs, and school simultaneously, some of these youth have been regularly beaten, molested, subjected to drugs and other inappropriate substances, and these kids still want to further themselves. Every single youth that was a part of this 4 day conference has the hope to one day go to college and make sure they are never in a situation comparable to the one that they were in while a youth.
These kids are the definition of strong. These kids take the lemons life has thrown them and collect them to be able to benefit in their later life from them.
I personally am in awe of them. Thanks, all of you, for making my heart flutter with excitement as you all emerge from your former cocoons into the butterflies you all are meant to be.
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