Help youth in foster care learn coping strategies with true stories in Represent
It is a testament to the stories in Represent (Youth Communication’s magazine written by and for youth in foster care) that readers say they are haunted by what the writers went through. But sometimes that emotion can keep a reader from seeing how the writers moved on from a horrible experience.
That’s why we’re trying something different, starting with this issue, which is about making up for the loss of a mother. The stories are heartbreaking, by writers whose mothers beat them, went to jail, disappeared, or died.
Reading them, teens who’ve lost their moms will know they’re not alone, and staff and foster parents may get a better grasp of the enormity of the loss many of their charges face.
But these stories also detail exactly how the writers compensated. Elvia Victorio saw her beloved mother murdered, and lost all her momentum toward graduating high school. “Without my mother, everything seemed impossible,” she writes.
Toward the end of the story, Elvia breaks down every step of her recovery. We have highlighted her steps in sidebars to help foster youth, workers, and foster parents better understand their own experiences. Even if readers never suffered anything as traumatic as Elvia did, they can learn coping strategies from Elvia’s experiences in therapy and her choices about which friends to confide in.
Throughout this issue, we point to teachable moments for staff and foster parents to discuss with teens.
E.F. closely observes her own response to an abusive mother (becoming a violent “problem child”) and how the nurturing she got in kinship care helped her gain control of her life. The lesson that goes with this story invites teen readers and staff to turn the same scrutiny to their own childhoods.
We think adding more interactive elements preserves the power of storytelling while helping guide readers to the news they can use. Let us know what you think.