Several dozen local foster youth recently enjoyed a day at the beach thanks to Fostering Youth Independence’s Reconnect & Rejuvenate Day, which gave the youth a chance to escape from the stresses of foster life.
Enjoying a day in the sun in Ventura, the youth and chaperones explored the harbor in pedal boats, played in the surf, participated in a sandcastle building competition, and ended with dinner at Toppers in Oxnard Harbor.
“This was a wonderful day where new friendships were formed, and, importantly, the FYI network was strengthened,” Carolyn Olsen, FYI’s executive director and co-founder, said in a news release. “We aim to create a community of support for these youth who are aging out of the L.A. County foster system without being adopted or reunited with their birth families.”
She continued, “the purpose of this day was to build teamwork among the youth and increasen their ability to trust others, offer youth the opportunity to form stronger connections with other foster youth, establish a support system that is vital for their emotional and academic success, and empower them to identify their strengths and build confidence.”
In addition to offering encouragement and support to the youth as they pursue a post-high school education, FYI hosts various social, networking and enrichment activities throughout the year. “The lives of foster youth are full of challenges, and we want to remove roadblocks to them becoming successful, independent adults. And offering these youth a reprieve from the stresses of foster life was a key component of our Reconnect & Rejuvenate Day,” Olsen added.
Following the beach day, FYI received numerous notes of thanks from the youth, including:
“I loved when we went on the boats and when we were all together at the beach, and I really just had a great day that day. I wanna say that day was probably one of the greatest in a while and I just wanted to say thank you.”
“Thank you so much for today. This was exactly what I needed.”
“Thank you for the beach trip you planned out. It was very relaxing and peaceful. It took me back to when I went to the beach for the first time after immigrating here. That’s why I got so excited. Plus I never had a sandcastle building experience before.”
The city of Santa Clarita Community Services & Arts grant provided funding for the event, and L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s office donated the charter bus. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints provided the snacks and beach toys for the outing.
“We’re so thankful for the partners in our community who’ve chosen to support these vulnerable youth,” said Olsen.
Additional information about Fostering Youth Independence and how to support this organization can be found at www.fyifosteryouth.org.