September Connected Youth Initiative roundup

NebraskaChildren_4c_ConnectedYouthInitiativeHere’s a look at what our Connected Youth Initiative programs have been up to in the past month.

Poetry Project kicks off this month
Project Everlast Omaha is doing something special with its young people this fall: the Poetry Project workshop. This project gives young people a chance to find their voices by working with a professional poet to create a poem to present at the annual Project Everlast Thanksgiving Dinner. We’re so excited to hear what they have to say to the world!


Legislative update
On August 8 and 9, Nebraska Children staff members and a young person from Omaha had the opportunity to attend the kickoff meeting of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative’s (JCYOI) Policy Council in Baltimore, Maryland. Alongside youth and staff representatives from six other states, they learned about bills in front of Congress that would impact youth with foster care experience, shared the work being done in local states, and identified policy priorities for JCYOI to consider. Key issues discussed included expanding foster care, better supporting pregnant and parenting youth, easing access to Medicaid, and promoting tuition waiver programs for alumni of foster care. Our staffers are excited to have one more way to ensure Nebraska youth voices are heard when policies are made – even all the way in Washington, D.C.!


Askable Adults Matter
On August 17, seven Nebraska Children Connected Youth Initiative staffers participated in Askable Adults Matter training provided by Planned Parenthood. The goal of the training is for youth-serving professionals, community members, and volunteers to become more approachable and knowledgeable in order to point youth in the right direction for sexual and reproductive health care. CYI staff members learned about how to recognize the need for “Askable Adults” to help youth make healthy decisions about their sexual and reproductive health and how to do so in a professional, ethical, and data-informed way. The training offered a chance to identify ways in which Nebraska Children staff can implement strategies in our communities to help young adults connect to the resources they need and receive appropriate support and services.


Staff Spotlight: Alana Pearson
Alana photo for spotlight

What is your role in CYI and how long have you worked at Nebraska Children?
I’m beginning my 8th year at Nebraska Children. Right now I’m on the CYI-Youth Leadership team and serve as Director of Camp Catch-Up. My focus is on supporting communities with their Youth Leadership work as well as coordinating our camps each year.

What do you enjoy most about working with the CYI at Nebraska Children?
I like the opportunities it brings. I am always interested in making the system better for young people. This means our work is constantly changing, and we need to change with the times. This is scary and exciting all at the same time.

What is your favorite quote?
“I am not a product of my circumstances, I am a product of my decisions.” And “That’s all I got to say about that.”- Forrest Gump

What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?
Something to do with horses, like a trainer or veterinarian.

What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Both from my foster dad: “If you fall off your horse, get back on” and “If you let your sense of humor be one of your greatest assets, think about how fun your life will be!”

What does the idea of “youth voice” mean to you?
This means that we aren’t just getting youth feedback on issues, but youth are actively participating and are a part of making decisions that impact their lives.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you?
Although Competition scored very low on my Gallup StrengthsFinder, when it comes to sports, I hate to lose. This especially rings true at camp when I’m always one of the last ones standing at muddy Gaga ball. I hate to lose! Something else most people don’t know about me is that I have a garage full of power tools and I know how to use them.

Nebraska Children and Families Foundation supports children, young adults and families at risk with the overall goal of giving our state's most vulnerable kids what they need to reach their full potential. We do this by building strong communities that support families so their children can grow up to be thriving, productive adults.

Posted in Teen/Early Adulthood

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