July 2022 Connects E-News

America's Next Motivator Supports Foster Youth

As the sun came out on what promised to be a beautiful day, runners and walkers of all ages and backgrounds took off to bring awareness to the need for foster parents and to contribute to foster youth during the firstCedric Riley (pictured left) with event participants annual America’s Next Motivator 5k run, sponsored by Franklin County Children Services. Leading the pack was Cedric Riley, former foster youth, mental health professional at The Buckeye Ranch, host of the America’s Next Motivator TV show and founder of the event. Riley wants this event to be the first of many efforts to motivate youth involved in the child welfare system and surround them with support.

At the age of 7, Riley entered foster care and spent time in five different homes, before he was placed with his now adoptive mother and found unconditional love with his forever family. After graduating from high school, he began sharing his story and message that “success is a choice.” “When people looked at my outcome, they called me an ‘exception to the rule,’ compared to others who left foster care,” said Riley. “That bothered me because I never wanted to be an outlier from my brothers and sisters in foster care. I want us to be a peer group supporting each other to attain success.” This led him to create an inspiring television show. “When youth in foster care overcome challenges and adversity, they become America’s Next Motivators,” he said. The show, which can be streamed on multiple platforms, including YouTube and AppleTV, focuses on interviews with people who have overcome obstacles and found success.

Riley’s mission to motivate focuses on one of his greatest loves—running. “The conversations we were having were good, but I always wanted to provide a behavior modification tool for youth who are having a hard time,” he said. “Running helped me show up as my best self.” Riley created a 12-week curriculum to assist youth and their families, foster families, mentors and supporters with relationship building, overcoming obstacles and focusing on achievements. Running is the cornerstone of the program.

Riley was eager to partner with FCCS on his organization’s first running event and help the agency recruit foster parents, as well as mentors. He plans to do much more for those who have had experiences similar to his own. “I am building a nonprofit that seeks to be a premier partner on a mission to motivate youth and families across the country,” said Riley. “I look forward to providing more powerful events, dynamic experiences and conferences that impact family well-being.” For more information on his efforts, visit www.cedricriley.org and motivatefosterkids.com.

2022 FCCS Volunteer Reception: Building Connection

After several years of separation due to the pandemic, Franklin County Children Services’ annual volunteer reception this past June was an especially joyful occasion and welcome reunion for everyone in attendance. “It wasFCCS Malaika Volunteer Janet George (center) with daughter Eva (left) and Malaika Director Tonia Still (right) our first reception after two years apart,” says Elizabeth Hamilton, director of volunteers and child enrichment at FCCS. “It was really a celebration of community and relationships as well as a moment to share with each other what we experienced over the last two years.”

Held June 11 at Champions Golf Course’s Gallery venue, FCCS’s mentors were well represented, from the agency’s Friendship, College-Bound, Simba and Malaika programs as well as Crisis Center volunteers who help out at FCCS’s intake department. The reception’s typical formal program and annual honors were jettisoned in favor of a relaxed atmosphere of storytelling. Everyone was there to connect over a shared purpose: to celebrate their commitment to mentoring and being there for kids when it matters most, according to Daryle Cobb, associate director of FCCS’s Organizational Health department, which oversees the Simba and Malaika programs. “It felt like family coming together after a long absence,” he says.

Ready to step up and make a difference in the life of child? FCCS is currently recruiting for all volunteer programs. Whether you want to help a student achieve their dream of heading off to college or be there for a child who needs a caring, supportive friend, the FCCS volunteer program would love to have you. To learn more and sign up for volunteer orientation, visit our website for more information. 

2022 Annual FCCS Graduation Party

More than 53 high school graduates were honored in June at the annual Graduation Party event sponsored by Franklin County Children Services.2022 FCCS Graduation Party 

The afternoon celebration included light refreshments, a DJ, remarks from speakers and elected officials, and gift giveaways. Decorations included a huge balloon display and a red-carpet backdrop provided to the students who wished to commemorate the event with a photo.

Each graduate was presented with proclamations of achievement by Columbus City Council and the Franklin County Commissioners. They also received gift cards totaling over $400, tool kits, lanyards, keychains, home/apartment supplies, laundry bags, hygiene items, luggage, personalized congratulations notes from community partners, journal books and certificates from both the Columbus City Council and Franklin County Commissioners. The FCCS Citizens Advisory Committee also donated.

FCCS Executive Director Chip Spinning thanked all in attendance and urged the graduates to seek out new experiences, saying “It is always encouraging to our agency when our children accomplish goals that create a path to a bright future.”

Other speakers included Raquel Breckenridge, director of the permanency department, and Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Jaiza Page. Graduates later introduced themselves and announced their future plans before adjourning.

Tips for Preventing the Summer Slide

School is out and summer break is in full swing. Kids don’t have to worry about homework, studying for tests, or getting up early. They get to kick back, relax, and enjoy the summer. While summer is a great time for kids toHelp prevent the summer slide unwind from the rigors of the school year, experts at Scholastic.com warn that it “can lead to the summer slide, a regression in academic proficiency due to summer break.” Research shows kids lose a significant amount of reading and math knowledge gained during the school year over the summer break. Children in elementary school and those from low-income families are most susceptible to the impact of it. The good news, however, is there are things that parents and caregivers can do to help prevent or limit the impact of the summer slide. Try some of these helpful tips from Children’s Literacy Initiative and MichiganVirtual to keep your kids on track this summer:

• Read something every day and make it fun
• Go to the library
• Set goals
• Use games to enhance learning and information retention
• Find fun ways to use math
• Use technology to facilitate learning (download academic apps)
• Play board games that require kids to read and count
• Practice shopping and handling money
• Cook with your kids and have them read the recipe

Visit our website for more parenting tips.

Upcoming Events

July - National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month brings awareness to the unique struggles that racial and ethnic minority communities face regarding mental illness in the United States. Visit the US Department of Health & Human Services Office of Minority Health for more information.