July 2012

Creative Writing Program Enriches Learning in Palm Beach County

Students are all-smiles while creating illustrations to accompany their stories.

Through its first grant from The Jim Moran Foundation, Blue Planet Writers' Room will deliver its Reach Out and Write program to two additional elementary schools beginning in August 2012. In a series of arts-integrated workshops for third through fifth graders, writing teachers combine fun and creativity with high educational standards to teach composition skills and inspire students to bring their ideas to life.

Within the selected schools, this grant also offers scholarship opportunities to Blue Planet's Spring Break camp, as well as professional development workshops for teachers to learn strategies and activities for incorporating the arts and creative writing into their classrooms.

In addition to teaching children and teens, Blue Planet also provides writing workshops to adults of all ability levels. Visit their web site to learn more.

In-Home Family Services Program Helps Reunite Mom and Daughters

Michelle and her three daughters are enjoying their new life together.

Michelle grew up surrounded by violence and crime. After becoming addicted to drugs, she served time in prison and lost custody of her two daughters. When her third child was born, the State required that Michelle participate in Boys Town South Florida's In-Home Family Services Program in order to keep her baby. She decided to accept help -- and during a 10-week intensive intervention program, Michelle worked with her Family Consultant to turn her life around and create a stable home for her girls.

With Boys Town's assistance, she received counseling and mental health services; entered a recovery program; found employment; and moved into an apartment. Because she was successful in the program and remained drug-free, Michelle earned custody of her baby and her two older daughters who were removed years earlier.

"Boys Town went above and beyond," Michelle said. "They took me to appointments, made sure I was okay and let me know that if I ever needed anyone to talk to, they were a phone call away."

Boys Town South Florida's In-Home Family Services Program provides intervention for children and families in crisis through funding from The Jim Moran Foundation and Children's Services Council of Broward County, Inc.

More than a Safe Place to Live

After being taken away from her parents at age five, Victoria lived in more than 20 foster, relative and group homes -- usually without her four siblings -- and experienced significant losses and emotional struggles. This past December, she "aged out" from state care at 18. Though still in high school, she had to leave her group home. Victoria decided to go to Youth Crisis Center's (YCC) Touchstone Village in Jacksonville, which provides homeless teens and youth transitioning out of foster care with housing and comprehensive services to help them prepare for independence and successful futures. Concerned about switching schools during her senior year, Victoria traveled on four city buses each day to attend her "home" school on the other side of town. She proudly graduated in June.

"Youth Crisis Center and Touchstone Village have helped me in striving for my education because they encouraged me to keep furthering myself and meet my educational goal," said Victoria. "My word of advice to other kids in foster care or in this type of situation would be: don't give up on your education; it is one of the most important things you can have."

On a campus that includes residential housing for 15-17 year-olds and efficiency apartments for 18-21 year-olds, Touchstone Village offers academic assistance, GED preparation classes, tutoring and mentoring, therapeutic counseling, career planning, as well as life skills training. Since 2009, The Jim Moran Foundation has partnered with YCC to help launch and continue quality programming at Touchstone Village.

To learn more about YCC, visit their web site or Facebook page.