One of the biggest and most joyous events of our year is coming up this week. More than 50 teens in Hamilton County’s foster care system will bid farewell to high school and say hello to their futures at this year’s “Celebration of Dreams” event.
The 12th annual event will be held at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, June 16, at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley. The event includes dinner and an awards ceremony featuring student speakers, a keynote speaker (Dr. Mitchel Livingston of the University of Cincinnati) and the presentation of certificates and other gifts for the graduates.
The teens invite their foster families and other important people in their lives, such as caseworkers, mentors, court-appointed special advocates and guardian ad litems.
The night will be spent honoring teens who have overcome tough backgrounds – sometimes abusive backgrounds — to graduate high school.
I absolutely love this event. These young people have experienced tremendous obstacles and have to work harder than their peers to achieve academic success They, and the people who have supported them, deserve a celebration and a pat on the back.
I’m also looking forward to hearing Dr. Livingston, who has a fantastic tale to tell about overcoming poverty and discrimination. I think our teens can really benefit from this. We know they have a tough road ahead: studies show they are more likely to be incarcerated, homeless, teen parents and beset with other social problems.
We have created a mentoring program, the Higher Education Mentoring Initiative, with the University of Cincinnati and others, to help some transition to a successful post-graduate life. We know they are fighters — they have graduated high school against great odds. Let’s hope their fighting spirit prevails!