CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Some say raising children takes a village. In Charlotte, the non-profit Youth Villages is just that.
“Youth Villages is really just an advocate for kids, especially youth that are aging out of the foster care system,” said Ashton Powell, the organization’s Events and Community Engagement Manager.
Youth Village’s LifeSet program gives young adults the support and guidance they need to make a successful transition to adulthood, specifically supporting kids aging out foster care. The program pairs the kids with counselors who offer guidance on how to apply to college, find a job, or buy a car.
“Foster care can be a tough road and so they’re trying to work through mental health stuff, they’re trying to get back on track with school because a lot of kids in foster care have jumped from school district to school district so that already puts them a little bit behind,” said Powell.
Fearing remote learning could force this group of kids to fall even further behind, jeopardizing their chance at college or finding work, Youth Villages is expanding their annual Backpack Heroes campaign.
This year in addition to backpacks and school supplies, Youth Villages is also looking for donations.
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“So, if they need a laptop were working to provide those, if they need a WiFi hotspot were working to provide those,” said Powell.
Powell said many of the kids within the organization also received free tutoring after school, which will no longer be an option with school buildings closed. So, she said some of the donations will also go toward tutoring.
“So really focusing on making sure that we can provide any kind of tutoring or really any need that comes up with these new circumstances around school,” she said.
From something, as big a laptop or as small as a backpack or a pencil, Powell said they all have the ability to change a child’s life.
“A lot of times when kids move from place to place they don’t have anything that is theirs and so a backpack to them symbolizes a little bit of security,” she said.
Even though kids won't be back in classrooms, Powell said the need for school supplies is actually greater now more than ever. She said during a typical school year, some students could rely on their school for supplies or sharing with friends, but now that they’ll be at home, they said pencils and calculators will be just as important as the WiFi.
To donate or to learn more about the Youth Village’s Backpack Heroes program, CLICK HERE.