October 2017 Connects E News

Youth Healing Through Art

(Clockwise) Jamauriyon, Kamauri and Ohnicah create art with FCCS TAP Program Coordinator Cheri Johnson.

“We get to paint how we feel,” says 13-year-old Jamauriyon. He and his brother, 11-year-old Kamauri and sister, 12-year-old Ohnicah are part of FCCS’s Therapeutic Arts Program (TAP), in which they express their feelings through artwork. The trio’s work is part of “Internal Cries,” the annual art show and silent auction of work by FCCS youth. The event is being held at 855 W. Mound Street from October 2 through 13, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (excludes Sundays).

These youngsters have only been part of TAP for a short time while living in foster care, but  they have created a number of mixed-media pieces that tell the story of their journey through the child welfare system. Jamauriyon created a piece that features the word “misunderstood” in bold letters, flanked by “abuse,” “loneliness,” “betrayed” and other words in smaller print. The piece sums up how he feels at times. “Some people don’t understand me,” he says. Ohnicah also finds her work cathartic. “Art helps me express my feelings,” she says. Coping with the past and looking toward the future is part of the creative process. For Kamauri, art is a way to focus on the positive. “I used to feel like I was always mad. This helps me,” he says. 

  The siblings were introduced to TAP by their adoption recruiter and TAP coordinator, Cheri Johnson. “Being part of TAP is helping them deal with the trauma they’ve experienced and prepare them for being adopted. They’ve been afraid to move forward. Through creating art work and talking in groups, we’ve helped them understand that being adopted isn’t about rejecting their biological family. It’s about creating a bigger family,” Johnson says. “They also learn what they’re capable of and that they’re worthy of permanency: having a family, celebrating birthdays and being cared for.”

The art show features work from youth involved in both the agency’s TAP and adoptions programs. It includes paintings, mixed-media pieces and more. It is open to the public and proceeds from the silent auction will benefit the artists. Click here to learn more about the TAP program. 

Children’s Day at COSI Equals Fun

Arnett Howard leads a mascot parade during Children's Day at COSI.Science, food, entertainment, and prizes equaled a fun filled evening for over 1,300 children and their families at COSI! In partnership with COSI and the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, FCCS celebrated Children’s Day at COSI Friday, September 29th. Children and families under agency care were given free passes that included admission into COSI, entertainment, and refreshments thanks to Kroger and other corporate donations. The crowd was welcomed by FCCS Executive Director Chip Spinning, Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce and COSI CEO and President Dr. Frederic Bertley.

Families were able to tour COSI exhibits as they mingled with local mascots including FCCS’s Ted D. Bear, Pepe from Kroger and Brutus Buckeye. They were also entertained by the smooth sounds of Arnett Howard and science demonstrations by COSI staff. All children who attended were entered into drawings for various prizes that included bicycles donated by Bike Lady, Inc. Children Services also provided resources and parenting tips for the families attending Children’s Day at COSI. 

You Can Grant a Child's Holiday Wish

Whether it’s to see the smiles on the faces of children or to help just one Franklin County family through a difficult holiday season, Holiday Wish allows youth under the care of Franklin County Children Services to request a special toy or gift. Each year, the central Ohio community provides gifts for more than 5,500 children who may have experienced abuse, neglect or other difficult home conditions. In some cases, these are the only gifts that these children will receive all year. You can help make the holidays special.

Here is how Holiday Wish works:

  • Each child age 11 and younger selects toys or other gifts valued at $50.
  • Each youth age 12 and older receives a $60 gift card to Target or Walmart.
  • Donations of any dollar amount are accepted to help purchase gift cards and food certificates for families. Donations may be tax deductible.
  • Donors may sponsor one or more children. They will receive each child's wish list, shop for the toys, wrap each gift separately, and deliver them to Holiday Wish.
  • Individuals and groups may also contribute new, unwrapped toys and gifts of their choice and drop them off at Holiday Wish.

Holiday Wish is located near I-70 in the Children Services' building at 855 West Mound Street, Columbus, OH 43223. Click here for directions.

Help make a child's wish come true this year by:

  • Clicking here to donate online or you can write a check payable to the Franklin County Children Services Children's Fund and send it to Holiday Wish at 855 West Mound Street, Columbus, OH 43223
  • Contacting Holiday Wish at holidaywish@fccs.us or (614) 275-2525 to sponsor a child or learn more about the program
  • Contacting Holiday Wish to volunteer your time

Tips for Today: Maintaining a Healthy Smile

  The last thing most kids want to do is brush their teeth, but cultivating proper dental hygiene at an early age can set the foundation for lifelong health. October is National Dental Hygiene Month, so here are some tips for keeping your kids’ smiles in optimal shape, courtesy of Webmd.com:

  • Early preventive care is important: kids should ideally see a dentist by their first birthday
  • Watch the sugary liquids: while juice seems like a healthy option for little ones, too much can encourage cavity-causing bacteria
  • Healthy habits start early: daily brushing and flossing, ideally twice a day, are two things kids of all ages need to do
  • Make it a family affair: brush at the same time as your kids to model good dental hygiene
  • Celebrate good behavior: a sticker or other small reward might encourage reluctant brushers

For fun tips on encouraging good dental hygiene, visit the American Dental Association’s www.mouthhealthykids.org. And if you know a child in need of dental care, Ohio State University’s College of Dentistry will hold its annual “Give Kids a Smile Day” on Saturday, October 14 from 8 am to noon. Free dental exams, cleanings and other dental care for kids in need will be offered. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (614) 688-3763.

FCCS Insider: Simba and Malaika Youth Visit the Muhammad Ali Center

Youth in the Simba and Malaika mentoring programs recently spent a Saturday learning about “confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect and spirituality” at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky. These were the core principles that the boxing legend and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient aspired to live by and teach to youth.

Thirty-two FCCS youth journeyed to the Center on September 9 and returned with a new understanding of who Ali was and the importance of using one’s success to give back to the community. They learned of Ali’s efforts to bring awareness to human rights issues and share his wealth with those in need. “It was a magical experience,” said FCCS Simba Director Daryle Cobb. “On the way home, one young man said to me, ‘[Ali] was much more than just a boxer.’”

Upcoming Events

November - National Adoption Month

National Adoption Month is a time to focus on the children in foster care who are waiting for a permanent family. Locally, Adoption Day is held on November 16. On this day, the adoptions of several children under FCCS care will be finalized at Franklin County Probate Court. Click here to view a searchable list of FCCS adoptable kids.

November 20 - National Family Week Celebration
5 - 7 p.m.
St. Stephen's Community House
1500 East 17th Ave.

This annual celebration focuses on the importance of the family and those who build community connections that strengthen families. For more information, call (614) 275-2780.

Now through December - Holiday Wish
855 W. Mound Street

For more than 50 years, Holiday Wish has provided gifts to children under the care of FCCS who might not otherwise receive them. Join us in helping make wishes come true! For more information or to donate: