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Audacious Idea: connecting foster youth with mentors

Everyday Heroes

Monday, May 5, 2008

Posted by Shantel Randolph, OSI-Baltimore Community Fellow, under Simple ideas

Note: In honor of National Foster Care Month this May, Shantel Randolph, this week’s blogger and 2007 Baltimore Community Fellow, is organizing a picnic for more than 200 foster care youth in the Baltimore area. To read more about her May 10 event, click here.

Youth in the foster care system live in a world of uncertainty—they are separated from parents, are forced to live with strangers, or in a group home, and not given the choice to say in what happens in their lives.

My audacious idea is simple: we need to offer our foster youth mentors in the community, people they can connect with on a daily basis so that they might build healthy relationships. We need to begin to think of these foster children in the same way we think of our own.

These mentors don’t need to be famous or well known in the community. I personally like talking to “everyday” people who, despite their struggles, continue to be positive. I think of these people as everyday heroes. They get up every day to go to work, take care of their kids and pay their bills. Yet, they are full of wisdom and guidance and can really make an impact on the lives of Baltimore’s foster youth.

Speaking as a former foster youth myself, I can attest to the importance of having a mentor. From my mentor, I learned the value of building healthy relationships and to speak out on my own behalf. I also learned to trust and believe that my life could be more than what it seemed. Having a mentor to impart wisdom and guidance helped me begin my journey toward independence.

As the community comes together to improve the foster care system, I think mentorship can be a great first step in investing in the lives of Baltimore’s foster youth. Let’s find a way to mentor and support our foster youth. I am a better person because someone took time to guide me towards maturity and adulthood. Having a mentor made a difference in my life. Let me know what you think.

Audacious Ideas is a blog created to stimulate ideas and discussion about solutions to difficult problems in Baltimore. Each week, we ask individuals to think candidly and audaciously about what can be done to promote opportunity, achievement, health, and prosperity in our city.  

©2007 Open Society Institute. All rights reserved.



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