Pay It Forward
A movie called Know How is going to be coming out in May in celebration of Foster Care Awareness Month. It premieres in theatres on May 15th, and will be televised nationally on Pivot TV May 27th at 8 pm. Know How covers major issues that many youth in foster care face such as a lack of options, healthy coping mechanisms, abuse, suicide, and self-harm.
It follows the stories of five youth, most of whom are in foster care. The stories of the youth were adapted for film, so they are not shown as a documentary, but these are still very real stories. When I spoke to the director, Juan Carlos Piñeiro Escoriaza, he reflected that “Sometimes we’d be shooting in the projects, and something would happen on the street that imitated the scene we were capturing. It was art imitating life and life imitating art.” I feel it is very important to warn you, readers, that there are some things in the movie that require trigger warnings: graphic depictions of sexual and physical abuse, selfharm, suicide, bullying, and drug use.
One of the major themes in Know How is a lack of healthy coping mechanisms and options in life to do better. This is best shown when Addie, who lives with her aunt in kinship care, finds herself doing pretty badly in school. Addie eventually gets kicked out of her house and gets involved with drugs as a way to cope.
Another major theme that runs throughout the movie is abuse, and how it can lead to self-harm and suicide. The New York Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) arrives at the home of a pair of sisters named Megan and Kayla. They remove the girls because it has been reported that at least Megan has been physically and sexually abused by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. The sisters are separated in the system, which leads to Megan feeling alone, afraid, and out of options; she has no family to turn to, and her group home staff aren’t as supportive as they could be. Because of that and the bullying she receives from other residents at the group home, Megan attempts suicide.
In the end, they all have a choice — continue down their current path or change their outlook and beat the odds.
Brothers Austin and James, who are stuck hungry and on the streets. After trying to get by on recycling collected cans, they realize it’s not enough to survive and begin robbing people to get money. It goes well for a while, but soon, one of their victims fights back and hits Austin with pepper spray. After that, Austin says he’s done robbing people, so James brings him to the next thing, which is selling drugs. That leads to a turf war with another dealer, and James is shot.
In the end, they all have a choice — continue down their current path or change their outlook and beat the odds. Know How is an eye opener for service providers to show young people that no matter their background, success is possible. Know How can show everyone that family is more important than a treatment plan, and a community can be helpful — if it’s a healthy one.
The intended audiences for Know How are foster youth and alumni, service providers, the court system, and anyone interested in learning about foster care.
When I asked Juan Carlos what is the ONE thing he wants his audience to take away from Know How, he said, “I see Know How as a focal point for dialogue and action. I see the film inspiring and educating audiences through the movie’s powerful stories; driving them online to get more involved in the lives of foster care youth. I want communities to be empowered to host screenings and discussions, become involved with foster care youth in their state, advocate for legislation, donate to organizations like the Possibility Project, and even become foster parents themselves.”
Above all, I believe getting in the know about foster care, then getting involved is very important.