"When I have tough times, I believe it can get better."
2020 has been a challenging year for many of us across the country. At Friends of the Children, we work with our youth and families on our nine Core Assets, social-emotional skills that empower youth to achieve their goals. November's Core Asset of the Month is Hope: When I have tough times, I believe it can get better. Here are a few of our favorite stories of Hope gathered from across our network.
Alex, a Friend from our Austin chapter, has been working on the Core Asset of Hope with one of his youth who has faced several changes in caregivers, residences and school districts during the last several months. With all of the changes, Alex persevered to connect with each caregiver.
Recently, Alex and his youth finally got to see each other. As they sat on a swinging bench together, Alex reminded him that no matter what, wherever he goes, Alex would continue to be there. The answer was, "I know." It's good to know that our youth have hope and confidence in the relationship with their mentors.
I have a youth on my roster that is experiencing big emotions from life changes. Even if he wanted to verbalize them, I'm not sure he could. We've really been focusing on trying to understand and make sense of what he's feeling, especially during heightened emotions. I ask things like, "does your chest feel tight or knotted up?"
At the same time COVID-19 hit, my youth was moved to a new foster home and has been rapidly regressing. We still connect on a regular basis, but primarily through a landline phone. The woman taking care of him is 74 years old and FaceTime is completely foreign. You can imagine the hours spent being her technical support.
I wanted a way for my youth to be able to work through his emotions even when I wasn't around. In our last couple of outings together, I took him to a guitar shop and his eyes lit up. Playing guitar and writing songs was my way of working through life growing up and I had a hunch it might do the same for him. We planned on taking lessons together, but with COVID-19 and his new foster home, I wanted to accelerate the process. I went back to the guitar shop we visited together and they loved what I was doing so they hooked us up with lesson books, strings, picks, and the camo strap he was eyeballing.
With no lessons, he picked up the guitar and started eagerly writing songs. We called back two days later and sang me some songs he wrote. It was incredible! Not only did he have the skills to write the words and melody, but the bravery to sing them for me and my program director over the phone. One was called, "Hope will come." Without him even knowing it, his emotions were spilling out through lyrics. He was giving me insight into his life that I might have never heard through conversation. It has opened up a whole new world that I can't wait to explore more.
At the end of each school year, professional mentors (Friends) nominate youth who have exemplified each of our Core Assets in a commendable way. Shaye, a Friend, nominated her youth Janelle* as the Core Asset Hope winner. Shaye says, "Struggles come and go, but Janelle always tackles each obstacle with a confident attitude."
These short stories are just a few examples of the continuous work our Friends do to make sure youth have hope for their futures.