Arts experience gives foster teens a voice

Just Like Me cultivates self-expression

Foster and former foster teens performed a wrap-up of a three-week cultural arts program offered by Family Support Services of North Florida (FSS) in July. The “Just Like Me” Cultural Arts and Education Experience was led by Brenda Stewart, staff member of FSS, and Kathryn McAvoy of The Performers Academy.

Candace Monroe, of FSS, with Christy and Ali Ponder

Candace Monroe, of FSS, with Christy and Ali Ponder

The local teens demonstrated theatrical presentations of dance, video, music and visual arts as they told their personal stories and exhibited their talents.
The unique summer camp focused on music, dance, writing and photography as therapeutic tools to cultivate self-expression. Participating teens also learned about education, training and careers in their talent areas as they engaged in therapeutic exploration of their lives and feelings.

“Our foster teens are exploring the arts, cultivating self-expression and developing their individual talents as they create from within,” said Lee Kaywork, chief executive officer, FSS. “Children in foster care have faced many obstacles and unpleasant experiences in their young lives and this cultural program encourages them to think about their lives and to focus on who they are as a person.”

FSS partnered for the second year with The Performers Academy, a local performing arts studio. Kaywork said, “Every opportunity FSS provides to enhance the lives of foster youth and to open their eyes to new experiences helps them gain skills and insight that will enable them to become successful adults.”

Brenda Stewart, left, and Kathryn McAvoy with David Abramowitz, director of DCF for North Florida

Brenda Stewart, left, and Kathryn McAvoy with David Abramowitz, director of DCF for North Florida

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