FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Man Walking 6,000 Miles for Foster Care Awareness Visits Dayton
DAYTON, OH, SEPTEMBER 21, 2015 – Jarett Wilkins from The Forever Family Walk will make his way through the Dayton area this week. Jarett is walking 6,000 miles across the US to raise awareness about youth in foster care and the variety of issues and hurdles they face.
Prior to setting out on his journey in August Jarett contacted a number of foster care organizations and allies in each state in order to learn more from those in the trenches. Jarett will be visiting CHOICES, Inc. located in Kettering, Ohio; CHOICES provides a number of programs to youth in Southwest Ohio.
“Jarett found CHOICES through our online presence, specifically social media, and sent us an email asking if we would want to participate in his walk,” said Ashley Pester, Development Director of CHOICES, Inc. “We couldn’t pass up the opportunity, we are excited to share with him how we are helping youth transition from foster care to young adulthood in our independent living program. Jarett will get to meet a couple of our youth and discuss the struggles they face.”
Approximately 27,000 youth will “age out” of foster care this year, many unprepared to live on their own. In Ohio, House Bill 50 would align the state with 26 others that have extended benefits for foster youth until they’re 21.
Last week Wilkins spent time in Columbus meeting with Ohio Fostering Connections, a collaborative group of child welfare professionals advocating for House Bill 50. The goal of House Bill 50 is to improve outcomes of youth leaving the foster care system.
A study shows that by allowing young people to remain in care until age 21, the percentage who earn college degrees will double from 10% to 20%, thereby increasing their lifetime earnings potential.
Jarett will have the opportunity to share his story with the CHOICES staff and learn more about how their programs are organized. “We also want Jarett to know how giving the Dayton community is and how many come together to care for kids in our programs,” said Pester. “It is only with generous donor support we can provide extra opportunities to kids, like participating in sports, music, or going on class trips. As The Forever Family walk gains followers nationally, we hope other organizations see how they can grant these opportunities for their youth.”
The Forever Family Walk will connect organizations across the US, providing data and program organization from a number of successful organizations like CHOICES. Wilkins goal is to also connect current foster youth to foster alumni across the US through a website, currently in the development stages.
Wilkins has set up a facebook page to share the details of his walk, you can look up The Forever Family Walk read more about his time in Ohio. Additionally, a gofundme account has been created in support of his walk. Any remaining money after he has logged 6,000 miles will be donated to One Simple Wish, a partner organization providing wishes to kids in foster care.
CHOICES, Inc. is a non-profit Foster Care, Independent Living, Home-Based Services, and Mentoring agency in the Southwest Ohio region. CHOICES has been successfully helping children and families for 28 years. CHOICES’ mission is to foster a meaningful quality of life for youth and families. They provide exceptional service delivery to kids in care, but also recognize the importance of providing enhancements to the children’s foster care experience. CHOICES wants their kids to have important childhood memories that are often missed in foster care, and with community support CHOICES is able to provide them extraordinary opportunities.
Tel: 513 659 8202
Development Director for CHOICES, Inc.