By Libby Smith
DENVER (CBS4) – One of the main missions of the Adoption Exchange is to make sure that teens who are aging out of the foster care system have some sort of support. To that end, the organization has started a new program which allows foster care youth to develop friendships with adults who could one day be mentors.
“Today we’re just going bowling, kids against adults,” said Augustine, 9th grader in the foster care system.
At this bowling party, the children are currently living in foster care, and the adults are volunteers. The teens showed up to win.
“I go for the light balls and hurl it as fast as I can,” said JP, also living in foster care.
“When I bowl, I like curving the ball,” Augustine explained.
Between splits and strikes, the teens are getting to know the adults.
“We talk to them, we ask questions, they ask questions. It’s kind of fun. We’re just getting to know people,” Augustine said.
“They’re pretty nice,” said Hazel, another teen living in foster care.
It’s one of a series of events put on by the Adoption Exchange bringing teens in foster care together with adults.
“We love the ability to get to know these kids in a relaxed and fun environment,” said Katie.
The CHOICE Program puts the teens in the driver seat, they get to say who they feel a connection with.
“After you’ve come for a while, it’s like they become friends. They’re not just strangers,” Augustine said.
It’s the first step toward developing a relationship which could help the teens make the transition from foster care to adulthood.
“Not just showing up when you’re asked to, but I think committing to being in someone’s life, being their advocate, and being a constant and welcoming presence for them,” said Brenden.
“My parents are still helping me out as an adult. I still know where to call, where to go, when I need someone. And it’s really unacceptable to me to think that a 17 … 16 … 15-year-old doesn’t have that or can’t envision that,” Katie explained.
Libby Smith is a Special Projects Producer at CBS4. If you have a story you’d like to tell CBS4 about, call 303-863-TIPS (8477) or visit the News Tips section.