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100s of Ohio Foster Youth Host First-Ever Statehouse Rally

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 By Mary Kuhlman/Craig Eicher, Contact
August 18, 2008

Columbus, OH – The Statehouse will be buzzing today, as hundreds of foster children from across Ohio descend on the site for their first-ever gathering. Policymakers will have front-row seats as the youth speak out about their firsthand experiences in the foster care system and the challenges they encounter on a daily basis.

The theme of the rally is "Success is a Choice." It's part of a Foster Care Awareness Campaign that organizers say will be an annual event, because--as spokesman and former foster child Cedric Riley puts it--these children need to be heard.

"The young people of the foster care system are more powerful than they understand--and than other people around them understand them to be--because they have had exceptional experiences. And exceptional experiences allow people to achieve exceptional heights."

In order to be successful, foster children need more nurturing and focus from the community than they are currently getting, Riley contends.

"This is a population of young people who really need our support and guidance. They need mentors, they need foster parents. But we need to understand that they are a lot stronger than some aspects of society say they are."

Self-confidence, education and mentorship for youth are a just a few of the issues that will be discussed at the rally, which is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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