Power of One
O ur 13th Annual Youth Leadership Summit was fantastic. I want to give a huge shout out to all our sponsors, community partners, allies, staff, and most importantly our chapter leaders and members. We couldn’t have done this without you all. For those who do not know, Summit is our annual event that happens in the summer. It is a chance for our young people from across the state to come together and present our ideas to the Office of Homeless Youth Advisory Committee and The Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care. We also get to receive feedback from both state bodies.
How did we get to this point? At The Mockingbird Society we follow a yearly advocacy cycle. In March our chapters began the process of brainstorming ideas for change based on their personal experiences in care or with homelessness. Over the next few months our chapters refined those ideas into solution proposals focused on improving the foster care system and ending youth homelessness.
Last week over sixty youth and young adults from all seven statewide network chapters presented on topics including financial literacy, recruitment of LGBTQ Foster Families, and new ways to increase youth voice in policy creation. In addition to these presentations, the Network Representatives based out of our Seattle headquarters presented on our ongoing fight to end youth detention for status offense violations. This is a practice that allows the state to detain youth for offenses that only people under the age of 18 can be detained for, such as truancy.
Our chapters and representatives presented their solutions for change and received feedback from The Office of Homeless Youth advisory board and The Supreme Court Commission on Children in Foster Care. The Mockingbird Society is continuing to partner with Washington state’s legislature as well as our community partners to identify more supportive ways to work with youth to ensure they have the resources they need to be successful. A complete list of our Summit proposals is available on page 3.
In the spirit of firsts, Annie Blackledge presented Representative Ruth Kagi and Justice Bobbe Bridge (Ret.) with our ACE Award, recognizing a lifetime of work supporting youth in care and experiencing homelessness. Thank you for your guidance, partnership, and wisdom! Rep. Kagi and Justice Bridge are the first recipients of the ACE award. Our next step is to take the feedback we received and refine the proposals. After this we move into the final phase of our cycle: advocating for change. We will go to Olympia to present our ideas to legislators and offer personal testimony to highlight the importance of our proposed ideas. This will culminate at our annual Youth Advocacy Day on February 8, 2019. We coordinate our Mockingbird chapter members and other allies that support youth voice to rally in Olympia to share stories and to help make change.
To follow what’s happening you can sign up for advocacy alerts as well as follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Onward to Olympia!