Project Independence Youth Grow and Soar
Melody, a youth in our Project Independence (PI) Nassau program, was named Student of the Month at New York Institute of Beauty! She was interviewed for a story on the school’s website, discussing her desire to be a role model for her sister, the time she walked to school during a blizzard, and her experiences growing up in a group home. She gave a special shout-out to her Project Independence counselor for advising her about the financial aid that paved the way to her aesthetician training.
Another PI youth, who was discharged from foster care, successfully obtained stable housing. PI staff transported the youth from a shelter to Job Corp, and then to DSS, helping the youth secure temporary housing. With staff’s assistance, the youth is actively seeking education and job resources to forge a positive path ahead.
Project Independence Nassau continues to hold weekly workshops for Long Island youth at The Learning Center, enabling young people to gain essential skills and information. Recent workshops covered a variety of topics, such as Managing Personal Finances (presented by National Finance Network). Eight youth attended the workshop, learning about the importance of saving money and how to avoid debt.
Renowned author Darryl Davis led a lively workshop on The Power of Smiling, teaching youngsters about the positive effects of smiling and how it impacts people’s emotions and every day state of mind. Participants were able to share personal challenges they have encountered in a safe and positive setting.
Denise Ambroise presented a workshop about recognizing 10 Signs of Relationship Abuse, attended by six PI youth. Ms. Ambroise advised accessing help when emotional, physical or mental abuse occurs in a relationship, stressing that one’s mind and body always belongs to oneself. Youth watched an eye-opening video depicting real stories of abuse experienced by teenagers.
Project Independence Suffolk also held a variety of events, including a Planned Parenthood workshop where six youth learned about sex education, practicing protection, and how to distinguish between common myths and facts. Money management was another featured workshop topic this past month, providing youth with the opportunity to open an account in a local bank. They also learned how to deposit money, write a check, and manage their accounts to avoid overdraft fees. Others visited a nearby mall, where they were taught how to use coupons and to take advantage of retail sales.
Five PI youth visited Stony Brook Medical School, where they toured the facilities with current medical students. The aspiring physicians spoke about the challenging requirements of medical school and how each person overcame obstacles to follow their dream of practicing medicine. During a recent Study Skills workshop, ten youth assessed their learning style and were taught helpful study techniques.
Of course, PI workshops aren’t all work and no play. Seven youth attended a fun Movie Night: a screening of Queen of Katwe, a story about a young girl from Uganda who grew up to become an international chess champion. Afterward, attendees took part in a lively discussion about the importance of following your heart and dreams, and shared how support systems are vital to achieve one’s goals. Upcoming summer events include a trip to Manhattan, a visit to Jones Beach, and a hike in Sand’s Point.
At FCA’s Learning Center, a recent visit to SUNY Farmingdale provided five youth with the opportunity to learn about Farmingdale’s admissions process, amenities and programs. A student tour guide led youth on an informative tour of the school, where they received a first-hand look at college life!