Lincoln City Shore Small

 

Lincoln City Shore on EBAY

 

No. 1 is 6 years old. No. 1 lives in a group home. It is especially hard because he and his blood brother are the youngest of all the “Brothers” and “Sisters” in the home. It is more difficult too because he is lower functioning. His speech and cognitives skills are less developed than most 6 year olds his age. This is due in large part to trauma he has had to endure in his first 6 years of life.

No. 1 was removed from his home for reasons. It doesn’t matter what the reasons are, but they can be summed up in the fact that his parents needs were greater than his own—and he suffered. The courts found it be in No. 1’s best interest to live in a foster home. Think on that for a moment. Your home life is so bad and destructive to your physical and mental development that a group home for Christmas and Hanukkah is safer/better than your own.

513,000 children are in the U.S. foster care system…every year. Year in, year out, half a million children are in danger. Most children are placed temporarily in foster care due to parental abuse or neglect. The average age of these kids is 10 years. Six percent of these kids are under 1 year old. Think of that 30,780 babies first months in life are so fucked up that the states deemed their parents couldn’t care for them. 26 % of them are ages 1-5. That means 133,380 kids will receive gifts from their caregivers, and their first holiday memories will be of waking up in an institution.

For children in foster care, the average amount of time they can plan on being in the system is 28.6 months. Half of those leaving care this year will have been away from home for a year or longer. 54% of the young people leaving the system were reunified with their birth parents or primary caregivers which is promising. 54% of people got their shit together, and wanted to be the love in these young people’s lives. Happy.

Daisy Small

 

Daisy on EBAY

 

No. 2 is older. He is 17, he will “graduate” from the foster home and go on to become emancipated. He will try to get an education, develop a life, and grow up to become and go where dreams lead. While politicians try to cut to welfare, it is human beings—people like No. 1 and No. 2 that need that help the most. Having been separated from their homes, their scholastic acumen, social skills, and life skills had to be learned on the fly and from within the walls of an institution. Thankfully, these boys are amazing kids.

Gratefully, these programs haven’t been cut yet. No. 2 will receive a subsidy from the government to help pay for groceries. These are the kind of people that receive food stamps. You might recall that many have blamed the less fortunate for their troubles. Young men like No. 1 and No. 2 have had no choice in how their lives have progressed until this point. Their clothes, food, schooling, and housing have been doled out just like their freedom. All kept on a short leash and used as a political fodder for the wealthy to run for election.

When he finally receives his freedom, and he is no longer a “ward of the state” he will still need assistance. When he moves into his state subsidized  simple apartment, there will be no family to help him move in. No relatives that will drop in to see that he is doing well. No one to wake up with on Christmas morning. Thankfully, the government helps good kids like these get into college, and helps pay for it.

Tax dollars for kids…not bombs.

Belize Small

Belize on EBAY

It has been my goal to help kids like these and others in the penal/foster care facilities. I’ve been blessed to be able to work with No. 1 and No. 2 and teach them gymnastics. I’ve done my best to show them that gymnastics is the greatest sport in the world. Not just because of all the normal reasons. But these kids have experienced fears that most of us never will. In gymnastics there is fear of failure sure, there is the fear of falling on your head as well, but there is always a soft pit to catch your fall.

Thankfully, for the 513,000 children every year WE as a society have made a social contract with them to be their safety pit. Thankfully we have been able to catch our smallest citizens with soft landings.

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