What passions or hobbies are helping you get through this tough time?
At Friends of the Children, we call passions or hobbies our “spark,” and we work with every child in our program to explore new things and find their spark.
For youth in foster care, moving from home to home, it may be especially difficult to continue beloved hobbies that give them a safe space. These youth are often moved to new homes quickly, without the opportunity to keep all their belongings like personal diaries, musical instruments, or sports equipment. Even then, they may find it scary to share something so personal like a passion or hobby with brand new caregivers. This is where Friends comes in. We’d like to share a story about just such an occasion.
Just as the COVID-19 pandemic was hitting, James* was moved to a new foster home where he quickly began showing signs of trauma and distress. Thankfully, James and his Friend, Andrew, are still connecting on a regular basis. Right now, they are primarily connected through a landline phone, as James’ new caregiver isn’t familiar with resources like mobile phones and FaceTime. Regardless, Andrew is continuing to find ways to help James.
Andrew wanted a way for James to process his feelings while exploring his passions, even when Andrew wasn’t around. During the last couple of outings, before the pandemic began, and Friends of the Children moved to a remote, virtual service delivery model, Andrew took James to a guitar shop, and his eyes lit up. They had planned on taking lessons together, but with COVID and James’ new foster home, Andrew wanted to accelerate the process. Andrew reached out to the community and found someone willing to donate an acoustic guitar, lesson books, strings and picks.
With no lessons, but access to key tools, James picked up the guitar on his own and started eagerly writing songs. He called Andrew two days later and sang him some songs he had written…one was called, “Hope will come.” His emotions were spilling out through lyrics. James was giving Andrew new insight into how he is feeling about all he’d been through. Guitar opened up a whole new world. James had found his spark. Only through the creative encouragement and 'no matter what' philosophy from his Friend, was James able to realize his passion to help him get through this difficult time. We agree with James: hope WILL come!
We live these events with our youth daily. They have often experienced far too much trauma at a young age—through no fault of their own. On top of that, it’s common that these youth are then re-traumatized by the foster care system – a system that is struggling especially now to provide the support children in care need.
As organizations around the country work to raise awareness about National Foster Care Month, we want to take this opportunity to celebrate youth in care as the heroes of their own stories. Thank you all for your support and commitment to Friends. We couldn’t do any of this important work without you.
*Youth's name changed to protect their identity