For several years now, the U of R School of Education’s Student Success Partnership and the Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program of the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools have co-hosted a Wellness Summit. In 2021, not even a pandemic could stop this important event, although we did gather virtually.
The Wellness Summit is designed to uplift, motivate, and inspire those who work tirelessly for the health and welfare of our “at-promise” youth. The attendees—social workers, counselors, probation officers, and other youth advocates—are connected through the work they do to benefit young people
As part of the January 29 conference, I ran virtual coaching sessions in which four foster youths crafted their own words and images of inspiration, with the help of a professional public speaker, an artist, and a writing instructor.
Brandon’s work, “The Grind,” encourages other young people to make good choices: “Part of everyone’s dream is to be successful,” he says. “Get an education. It’s never too late so what’s the point of hesitating? … Life is what you make it.”
Andrew’s work, “A Shout-Out to Frontline Workers,” recognizes the struggles faced during the pandemic: “You are the reason America is still hanging on,” he asserts. “One of the many lessons I learned during the year of 2020 is that life can be snatched and taken away at any time … I thank essential workers for all that they do, especially saving lives.”
Zuria’s expressive words compares life to a pomegranate: “Our outer shells hardening as we grow making it more difficult for others to truly get to crack it open and get a taste of how sweet the interior of a pomegranate really is… It requires work and effort to be able to open up a pomegranate. It may run up your patience, but in the end the reward is nourishing.”
Lastly, Miguel writes about the difference between being alone and being lonely and reminds people of what can be accomplished, even by one person. “Alone is not lonely; alone is simply being by yourself,” he says. “Anything can get done by one person alone. Just you alone can brighten someone’s mood just by smiling at them, because you are powerful. You have joy, happiness, bravery, and many other great things in you. You just got to pull them out.”
Funding for the Student Success Program comes from San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program and the San Bernardino City Unified School District. Kelly Kwok and I co-direct this program, carrying on the mission set by the late School of Education Professor Emeritus and Student Success Program Director Carol Ann Franklin.