We met Stephanie in Fall 2016 when she was 12 years old on one of our Cultural Excursions to National Dance Institute. She was living in care with a family member. Stephanie travels 4-5 hours each month to visit with her father, who is incarcerated. After the dance workshop that day, Stephanie asked if she could study dance. Our Arts Scholarship Manager Robin Abbott overheard this and brought her on board as a Culture For One scholarship student. We enrolled Stephanie in jazz dance class at Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL) near her home in Queens.
Stephanie became a diligent student who loves her classes and we expanded her studies with Modern and Hip Hop. In Fall 2017, Stephanie was named Student of the Year by JCAL and awarded a $1,000 dance scholarship by her Congressman. Then, suddenly, Stephanie was removed from her home and placed in a new foster home. Yet, Stephanie continued with her classes. Robin worked closely with her foster care Case Planner and new foster mother to ensure Stephanie maintained her dance class schedule and worked with JCAL faculty to create a caring environment at the Center for her during another time of emotional upheaval.
Now, at 14, Stephanie has her sights on a performing arts high school she has visited, indicating a career focus – an important developmental milestone. Children in care experience significantly higher rates of unemployment and homelessness in young adulthood than their non-foster care peers. Equally meaningful – and joyful – is Stephanie’s stated self-image as a friend and fellow “student of the year.”
Khadija’s Closing Words
“Being in foster care means experiencing hurt, loss, and burdens at a young age — something no child should have to endure. Culture For One programs and volunteers offer children opportunities to be nurtured, build confidence, produce hopeful thinking, and use art as a healing tool.
Children in foster care often feel unloved, unworthy, hopeless, and very lonely. But we are not lost causes. We are incredible young people with various gifts, talents, and dreams. To have hope, we need guidance and support, and someone to believe in us.
Your generosity proves that people are concerned – someone does care about our tomorrows. Because of you, we are not alone.”