April 17, 2012 at 4:07 a.m.
University of California, Berkeley
Foster youth face adversity in many ways. Some grow up in hazardous environments burdened by violence, troubled parents, and poverty. Others move frequently from home to home and then struggle in school because they're unable to adapt. I want to try and alleviate some of these burdens by creating a service program geared towards increasing the amount of stability in the lives of current and former foster youth. Since children and young adults are easily impressionable by their surrounding influences, I have a vision of providing emotional support and guidance through mentorship programs as well as raising funds to provide addition resources and services relevant to child development.
Growing up in foster care was a traumatic experience for me and after my 5th high school, I was slightly discouraged about continuing education. Yet I was fortunate enough to have a few positive role models in my life. They inspired me to do well in school, kept me from pursuing self-destructive paths, and taught me the importance of giving back to the community. Since I cannot be that person for over 500,000 foster children in the US, I hope to inspire other individuals to actively promote their emotional, educational, and economic welfare. You can be the positive influence that inspires a foster youth to do well in school so that they can one day have the opportunity to create a better life for themselves.
Some statistics: On any given day more than 500,000 youth are in some form of foster care cross the United States. More than 200 youth will emancipate from the San Francisco Foster Care System every year. 83% of foster children are held back by the third grade. 46% of former foster youth complete high school (compared to 84% of the general population). 70% of teens who emancipate from foster care report that they want to attend college, but less than 50% complete their high school graduation and fewer than 10% of who graduate from high school enroll and college, and of those less than 1% graduate from college. Former foster youth are found to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at 2 times the level of U.S. war veterans.
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