Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Twenty intrepid climbers go up Mt. Shasta for foster youth

Next week, 20 climbers will brave Mt. Shasta to raise funds for two organizations that lobby on behalf of foster youth.

One of the climbers is my kid, the brave and tenacious Heidi Moran. But that's not the only reason I'm writing about this.

Over the years I've learned about the difficulties children in foster care have to endure, chief among them having to be separated from their families -- as bad as they could be, it's all these children know, and often it's an ordeal for them to start anew with a different family or a group home.

But having to be away from their families is just the beginning of a long journey. Many face tremendous challenges to graduate from high school and college; much higher than the hurdles faced by youth who have the support of their next of kin. Yet, many go on to successful, fulfilling careers.

Organizers say they chose climbing Mt. Shasta as a fundraiser not just because one of their leaders is a climbing enthusiast. Going up a volcano is a good metaphor for the mountains foster youth have to conquer.

“You get to see people experiencing the mountain for the first time, putting on crampons, wearing a headlamp,” said Heather Matheson, outreach associate for Fostering Media Connections and a coordinator for the climb. “As an adult you don't get to do this often, and it gives our youth climbers a chance to channel their drive and resilience to overcome a mountain metaphorically and in reality. They’ve overcome so much and it's an exciting thing to do to build confidence.”

Matheson, who will be on her third climb, said the “Questival” is also a great chance for the adult climbers to be around foster youth, something they may not usually have the opportunity to do. Interestingly, it’s the youth climbers who have more success reaching the top, she said.

“It comes down to resilience,” Matheson said. “It's a huge mental battle and the youth climbers are more than ready for that kind of things.”

The California Youth Connection, a youth-run and led legislative advocacy organization, is composed of hundreds of current and former foster youth who embody the inspirational story of foster care children succeeding. Fostering Media Connections is a non-profit organization that harnesses the power of journalism and media to improve the foster care system. Together, CYC and FMC are helping to give foster youth a platform to make their voices heard. These are the two organizations that will benefit from the "Questival", the fourth annual Mt. Shasta fundraiser

Please consider supporting  these brave souls and their worthy cause. You can find their link here.

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