PBS SoCal has unveiled a new public media project called “To Foster Change” that will address crucial child welfare issues in order to “spark dialog and progress,” Andrew Russell, President of PBS SoCal, said.
Through documentaries, web series, and PSAs, PBS SoCal hopes to “foster change” by telling the powerful stories of foster children, foster and adoptive parents, and the array of professionals who work with kids in the child welfare system.
In the video above, a former foster child named Jessie talks with pride about painting abstract murals for a living, and how a love of coloring books turned into a passion for graffiti art.
“That was my way of expressing myself and getting rid of all the frustration and emotions I had of dealing with all the dysfunction in the house,” Jessie says. The young man, who was in foster care from the age of 3 to 18, says he hopes his murals inspire those who pass by them. “I’m blessed to create something beautiful that derives from pain, and share it with the world,” Jessie says.
In the video below, Shelita, a singer and former foster child talks about how music and Maya Angelou’s most famous autobiographical book drastically changed her outlook on life. “”All of my music is expressions of my experience…about what I’ve gone through,” Shelita says. “One book that changed my life was Maya Angelou’s, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. It wasn’t until I read that book that I realized I wasn’t a victim anymore.”
In addition to providing a platform for foster youth to tell their own stories, PBS SoCal will also host community conversations among those whose decisions affect the lives of foster kids, including education leaders, representatives from government agencies, advocates, and service providers.
When foster kids age out of the system, the odds are invariably stacked against them. They often leave their foster homes with little or no money, support, or tools to prepare them for college or adult life.
Acknowledging the hardships associated with “aging out” of the foster care system, the initiative will give internships, mentorship, and other employment training opportunities to teens and young adults making the daunting transition out of the foster care system.
Head over to the ToFosterChange.org website to learn more about the initiative (which is funded by a three-year, $1.7 million grant from the Hilton Foundation), and to take in the rest of the not-to-be-missed videos.