The following letter was written by one of the leaders at the 2022 Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Day Experience. Theron Ogedengbe is a therapist for at-risk youth, former Shadow Day delegate, and former foster youth.
To the Participants of the 2022 Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Day Experience —
I’m writing this open-ended letter to you. I witnessed the growth of a multitude of a younger generation of advocates. It was inspiring to see a group of former foster youth become avatars of change with so much zeal and professionalism. I am from the school of thought that it is imperative to turn your pain or story into power.
Participating in Shadow Day as a Regional Coordinator placed so much in perspective for me. Here’s some of what I learned from the team of young people I led in Washington, DC:
- Never under estimate the passion of foster kids.
- The power of positivity and how much motivation I can have with a lack of sleep.
- During one of our workshops, we tasked the some of the delegates to tell us who can create change. I got the run of the mill answers like Congress, ICWA, social workers, etc. But the most moving and powerful was one little word: “me”. I tend to take the wind out of things and sometimes I tend to shy away from big emotions. Reading that moved me.
I want to thank this delegation for you hard work and determination. I am inspired. I’m grateful and honored for your hard work. With passion, fire and unbridled joy, I am at peace with this new generation for world shakers.
To all of you beautiful people, thank you for all your hard work and dedication. I’ll miss you all and I’m so appreciative of our time together. The way I feel about you all — I just can’t be wrong. I truly know I have a heart now because it’s breaking. This isn’t good bye, but a see you later.
From Tulsa with love and unbridled joy,