Teen Conference 2004 for Foster Youth

Contact: Carl Nathe

 

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"Over 6,000 children in Kentucky currently are in foster care. We owe it to these kids and to our larger society to share as many positive role models and experiences as we can,"

George Duvall
program coordinator for UK's Training Resource Center

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 23, 2004) -- Myths plague the foster care experience. Dispelling unfounded stereotypes regarding foster children and care givers is one of the goals of a two-day conference hosted by the University of Kentucky June 26-27.

With this year’s theme, “Fear/No Factor,” the Kentucky Youth Connects Statewide Teen Conference 2004 will involve 250 people, including current and former foster youth, as well as care givers.

"Success is a journey," said George Duvall, program coordinator for UK ’s Training Resource Center. "Over 6,000 children in Kentucky currently are in foster care. We owe it to these kids and to our larger society to share as many positive role models and experiences as we can," said Duvall. The Training Resource Center, together with Kentucky Youth Connects (KYnex) and the Kentucky Organization for Foster Youth (KOFFY), is sponsoring the conference.

Duvall, himself a former foster child, is living proof that foster care programs do succeed. Raised in Lexington by a mother on welfare, he was labeled as a “bad child.” Eventually, he settled into a foster home situation that, with the right mentoring, helped instill in him a sense of pride. He went on to graduate from Eastern Kentucky University and now is a husband and father of two.

The “Fear/No Factor” conference brings together youth between the ages of 15 and 21. Former foster children will share their own stories of struggle and perseverance with young people currently in foster care.

Myths that Duvall and his colleagues want to confront during the conference sessions include, “youth in foster care are incapable of assimilating into healthy family relationships,” and, “youth in foster care have little hope for a positive future…they will end up in jail or in prison,” or, “youth in foster care are not loved by their biological parents…they do not have real parents.”

While workshops and educational sessions dominate the program, there will be time for fun. At the end of the first day, a talent show is planned for youth to showcase their singing, dancing, poetry and more.


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