Building Genesis

Fostering New Beginnings

Month: May 2016

Be the change that you wish to see in the world- Gandhi

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Wondering what you can do to make a difference in the life of a child in foster care? Nobody longs for a safe and loving family more than a child in foster care. Genesis Hopeful Haven needs you to be an angel on earth for these youth. You will not only bring positive change to the lives of these vulnerable youth, but also you will be a force of change that will affect their children and grandchildren for generations to come. In being a part of their lives, you will enrich your life as well. Last week our Vice President of GHH Tim McDougall, who is a Pilot for United Airlines, took our boys out to fly a plane. Neither of them had ever even been on a plane, let alone had the opportunity to fly one. He conducted a 30-minute workshop about what flying entails, explained how the different parts of the plane work together and went through the process of inspecting the plane before taking off. The experience was both thrilling and inspiring for our boys. Although flying is part of everyday life for Tim, by sharing his world with the boys he was able to make a positive impact in their lives and expose them to something new and interesting. We are all about exposing the boys to many career opportunities and we find that using various workshops led by people in different vocations is an excellent way to do this.

This week our board member Caryn Lavernia, who is Assistant Vice President for Florida International University (FIU), did a workshop on resume building. They worked on creating a resume, learned about the importance of building good resumes and applied for the Miami Dade County Public School Internship. Caryn is always providing our program with amazing resources that will help us in producing the best practice model to help our youth succeed. After the workshop, she assisted one of the boys with his Spanish homework and took him out to practice driving lessons. Her contribution of time and energy has been invaluable for our boys.

Aside from workshop leaders and teachers, those who donate to our program have blessed us as well. For instance, a great supporter Claudia Santiago is constantly donating home items to us. We are so thankful for our many supporters and we couldn’t do this without them! In order to make our program become successful and to touch the lives of at-risk youth, we need more of our community’s support. Please volunteer to help us out in any way possible. Just like our workshop leaders and donators, you have something to share that will greatly impact our youth and expand their horizons. Join us in paving this path for the next generation.

Involving Foster Children in Extracurricular Activities

This weekend we had a chance to attend a wrestling tournament and watch one of our GHH boys in action. He won a first place medal and was very proud to share the experience with us. We encourage all of our children to participate in extracurricular activities or to volunteer in the community. We have another boy who aspires to become a famous make-up artist. He will start taking classes this summer at Miami Dade College. Our third boy enjoys boxing and dreams of becoming a music producer.

If any children can benefit from extracurricular activities, it is foster youth. On average, foster youth tend to have worse academic performance and more behavioral problems than other students. Thirty percent of foster youth perform below grade level. They are more likely to need special education services. They also get held back at a much higher rate. A lot of the issues for foster are centered around frequent school changes. Each time a foster youth changes homes – which can be frequent – they also change schools. This means they must adapt to a new peer group, new classes, and new teachers. These changes increase their chances of having behavioral problems and leads to a higher risk of drop out.

Extracurricular activities help with academic achievement, with solving behavioral problems and with identity development. However, there are systemic barriers for foster youth involvement in after school activities. Facilitating foster youth participation requires the coordination of state and local policymakers (allowing fee waivers), caregivers, school districts (encouragement and support is needed) and the foster youth themselves. Typical school experiences involve more than just attending school and getting credits. It is also about being a part of school community.

An increased focus on removing the barriers to foster youth participation in extracurricular activities, as well as actively encouraging involvement, could yield many benefits for this often overlooked population of youth. At Genesis Hopeful Haven, we make extracurricular activities a priority. We are looking for any niché our youth want to be involved in – basketball, soccer, art, tumbling, etc.  Anything that interests our boys, we make it our duty to sponsor it. It is ultimately rewarding to us to see our boys enjoying their interests to the fullest. Be a part of the journey that helps break barriers for foster children who are often easily forgotten.

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