In 2021, Youth Voice received many powerful submissions, and with great help from The Imprint and Fostering Families Today, we published over 50 original pieces from current and former foster youth with homelessness and juvenile justice experiences. As the year comes to end, here is a collection of our top stories of the year.
We will kick this series off with the winner of our 2021 Youth Voice Writing Contest winner, Hannah Hamm. Her submission “Twisted Fairytale” earned her first place and a grand prize of $1000. Her piece speaks to the theme of “inspiration” and she explores her life challenges and what inspired her to keep moving forward.
One of our very own Youth Voice Contributors Shay House, who is from the Bay Area, shares a powerful piece about juvenile justice and how the system locks youth away. She strongly argues for a better method to rehabilitate youth and the abolishment of juvenile centers.
One of Youth Voice’s seasoned writers, Katarina Sayally, was selected to also be a Youth Voice contributor from the Bay Area who wrote a powerful piece “It’s On All of Us: Close Youth Prisons, Build Youth Leaders” spotlighting juvenile detention centers and its impact on youth. Katarina is calling all leaders to get serious about healing youth affected by this system.
Alex Chivescu reflects on COVID-19 impact of foster youth in particular those aging out. He shares his opinions on how foster youth are evicted from the system and left with zero to nothing. Read how Alex believes emergency assistance should be in place for current and former foster youth especially those who have aged out of care.
Youth Voice partnered with Foster Advocates in Minnesota dedicated to fostering advocacy and change for foster youth statewide. Through a partnered empowered journalism workshop, four participants wrote pieces that resulted in this series, Snapshots from Life in the Foster Care System.
Youth Voice guest writer Sophi Marsaw-Naverez shares snippets of her story and reflects on her growth after “surviving” the system and going on to work for the mayor’s office in Sacramento. Read about how Sophi triumphed through her obstacles and plans to use her platform to inspire other foster youth.
Here’s two powerful series: One is a collection of written submissions and poems about the death of Ma’Khia Bryant, a foster youth who was killed by police after defending herself from an attack at her group home that lasted for two days before her unfortunate demise.
The second is a collection of pieces reflecting the one-year death of George Floyd. Youth Voice writers sound off about police brutality and racism, and reflect on what justice really means in a society where Black citizens die at the hands of police.
In this powerful piece, former foster youth Ivory Bennett writes about Olympic medalist Simone Biles’ decision to prioritize rest over competition — and the example she set in doing so.
Tasha Matthews shares her experience growing up in foster homes with people with different backgrounds, ethnicities and identities. Tasha provides a unique perspective for caregivers who share their homes with youth with different backgrounds and offers advice to youth so that they do not grow up feeling powerless.
Previously mentioned, Ma’khia Bryant was a foster youth who was killed by police this year. Dominique Freeman also reflects on her death and her victimization through the lens of a Black girl and former foster youth herself.
Lastly, we bring to you an influential piece from Kenyon Lee Whitman who in light of the holidays wants to bring awareness to the fact that most current and former foster youth do not have happy holiday memories and often do not look forward to celebrating. He offers advice to youth and advocates better support during the holiday season.
We’re looking forward to 2022 as our Youth Voice program continues to use the power of journalism and media to lead the conversation about children, youth and families in America.
Subscribe to our new monthly Youth Voice newsletter to stay up to date.