New masterclass program invests in Arizona foster kids futurePosted: Updated:
"We've bundled together all our past programs that have been successful in the last 10 years," said Founder Colleen Walski.
The Scott Foundation has been working to improve the lives of children in Arizona's foster care system for the last decade by "emotionally teaching kids to make better choices through selfless service."
Launching this year, a new program the local nonprofit created that is truly one of a kind. It's a four-year masterclass for teens ages 14 to 17 in the Arizona Department of Child Safety's care.
"This first year is all about emotional healing and understanding what their dreams are. The core focus of the program is what kind of a person do I want to be and how do I want to make the world better than I found it," Walski said.
Their goal is to get 10 community sponsors or champions per teen participant.
There are 36 teens in all, each one of them hand-selected. The program started about six weeks ago.
"They are very humbled by the whole experience and thought that they are the chosen ones to be a part of this," said Walski.
Most of the teens are in group homes. Youth Advocate and Enlightenment Guide Mary McCullough says that can be a very challenging way of life for them and make it hard to even graduate from high school.
"Doing homework when you're in these kind of environments that are unsettling, you're going through a lot of emotional turmoil. Your case workers are changing all the time, and there's a lot of drama in group homes," McCullough said.
She would know. McCullough ended up in foster care at the age of 14.
Her background and experience in the system not only helps the teens in the program trust her, but they also look up to her.
"For them to see that somebody can be successful and carry themselves in the way that I do, it gives a lot of hope for them," she said.
Each one of the teens is now openly discussing and working on plans for a future that just weeks ago didn't even seem possible and they're barely into year one.
"This has given them a level of hope I could never have imagined," said Walski.
Scott Foundation Executive Director of Business Development Tim Harris says the masterclass program offers people a way to get involved and make a difference for kids in the system from a distance.
"It's a way for them to adopt without adopting," he said. "It's a way for them to be involved in some kids' lives and see the changes in kids' lives and see them grow and see them flourish."
To learn more about the Scott Foundation or the Masterclass and find out how you can help, you can visit their website: http://www.scott-foundation.org/welcome.html
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