Posts Tagged ‘voice’


December 9, 2009

If you have not gone to see the movie “Precious,” do not pass go, do not collect $200, GO to this powerful movie.  The script and cast are phenomenal. The story was horrible to watch and process, especially when one realizes that this happens all too often on a daily basis, and not just in the black community, but all of them. 

The alternative school teacher in the film is the ray of hope through it all. She cajoles and pushes her students to complete the program, but more importantly, she lets them know there is at least one person in their corner.  And with that encouragement, she helps them find themselves through the written word.  In many of these cases, that kind of encouragement is what changes the course of these children’s lives.

My mother-in-law, “Ma,” is that person for the children of Connecticut.  She heads up Children in Placement, a program that trains volunteers to act as guardians-ad-litem for abused and neglected children in the Connecticut court system.  I remember when she was deciding between this position and another one.  She chose this job because while it would offer a number of challenges (and less money), the rewards would be far greater. That was 15 years ago.

Over these past 15 years, she has been that encouragement for the children that cross her path.  She has been their voice when they had none, but more importantly she has helped numerous children find their own.  Through The Connecticut Youth Alliance, she empowers current and former foster children to use their voices through digital story telling. They put their life stories down via computer (while learning some great writing and editing skills).  Initially, the students weren’t sure where to begin, could be believe that they had anything to say. Or that anyone would want to hear what they had to say since no one had ever really asked. With Ma’s support they find their way forward.

Rather than sharing what the students have written, she takes them along to events and presentations to share their own words, exposing them to people, environments, and situations that they would never have thought possible. On some occasions she spends her own money to do so.

Her success stories are the students that have gone on to bigger and better things, including college, some on full scholarships.  Her students come back to see her and to share their success with kids who came from where they are, letting them know that there is hope. They come back to say, “Thanks.”

This film shed a glaring light on the vicious cycle that poverty, abuse, and neglect can bring to bear on a community, reaffirming the need for what my mother-in-law and so many others like her do every day.  It has motivated my husband to action.  I hope it motivates others so that one day there will be no need for programs such as Children in Placement. And we will all be better for it.

Thanks, Ma.


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