Brooklyn Family Court holds annual teen day
The Kings County Family Court hosted its annual Teen Day event on Thursday for Brooklyn kids in the foster care system to network and interact with various agencies to prepare for their future.
Tables set up from some 30 agencies allowed kids heading into adulthood to learn about college prospects, health insurance, preparing for job interviews and other information. With youth movements currently taking the country by storm, this year’s theme was “Using Your Voice as a Bridge to Your Future.”
“Our hope was that by picking this theme today … we would help the teens catch even a glimpse of trying to see what it means to use your voice to really build your own future,” said Judge Dean Kusakabe, co-chairman for the Teen Day Committee.
After a dance performance in front of dozens of teens by the Flex Program, an arts education initiative aimed at helping young people in difficult situations, three panelists engaged in a discussion about how kids can achieve their goals and how adults in the system can help them.
Drayvon Washington, who had just performed with the Flex Program, said adults need to level with the kids.
“You have to show them eye-to-eye level. I’m gonna get off my high horse and get down and dirty,” Washington said. “You have to meet them all the way.”
Kyle Layne, a residential counselor at St. Anne Institute in Albany, New York and who aged out of the foster care system at 21, said education and books got him through by giving him an opportunity to block out reality.
But an advocate in the “You Gotta Believe!” program as part of the Nobody Ages Out Youth Movement Rosie Williams offered advice for kids who struggle with school.
“You have to meet the kids where they’re at, if they’re not learning in the classroom, let’s ask them a question of how you learn,” Williams said. “You have to believe in these kids for them to believe in themselves.”
As for the judges and other courthouse employees in the system, Williams said they need to allow kids to tell their stories in court.
“The only way the system is going to change is through the young people that’s going through the system,” Williams told the teens. “So speak up and don’t be afraid to speak up about your story because it’s powerful.”