Matteson, IL – Back to School picnic in surrounding Chicagoland huge success

Submitted by Bridgette Henderson, Treatment Supervisor

Deborah Conley, Licensing Supervisor, Ed Sparks, Bridgette Henderson, Treatment Supervisor, (blocked photo), Kathyrn Smith, Program Director

(Left 2 Right) Deborah Conley, Licensing Supervisor, Ed Sparks, Executive Vice President, Bridgette Henderson, Treatment Supervisor, (blocked photo), Kathyrn Smith, Program Director

The annual Back to School picnic held on August 4 escalated to a new level in Illinois. It was AMAZING!!! to watch the joy on the faces of the next group of graduates to come. They all have something to aspire to after witnessing the achievements and accomplishments of the most recent graduates. Once again the Advisory Board was instrumental in working with the agency to provide such a wonderful back to school picnic for the youth and everyone in attendance. Their hard work and dedication helped inspire foster parents and staff to make this picnic the best ever. This year the picnic was held in conjunction with the annual trunk party for the graduates.

There were 9 graduates in total and 7 were also graduates of the CANEI program. Four youth are going away to northern, southern, eastern and California universities while the others will attend a junior college in the surrounding Chicagoland and suburban areas. One of the graduates received a full four year DCFS academic scholarship. In addition, he will receive a monthly stipend while in college to assist him with his extra expenses.

Another youth received the Mubarak Awad Scholarship this year and will be attending Eastern Illinois University. Two of the graduates graduated from a certified nursing assistant program and one has successfully passed the state board examination. Three youth received Youth of the Year for 2013 (which is new this year). The winners for first and second place received a tablet. Third place winner received $100 cash. The other youth watched in amazement and declared that they would receive next year’s award. All of the youth received school supplies and a backpack. There was good food and games for the youth and everyone appeared to have a fabulous time. The staff came to support all the youth. More foster parents participated and encouraged their youth to strive for excellence.

As we continue to carry out our agency’s mission to serve our youth and families we know that next year can only be better. In my office I have a sign that says,

“Believe there are no limits but the sky.”

I was corrected by a 16 year old young lady who stated,

“Ms. Bridgette I disagree with the sign. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that the sky is the limit, because there are footprints on the moon.”

Now that sign is in my office. Our youth are AMAZING…  and we are all inspired to continue the NYAP mission because of their accomplishments.