Twin Cities non-profit gives voice to vulnerable youth

- Too often, children experience devastating trauma at home. It can have long-term impacts on their health physically, mentally and socially.  But a non-profit in the Twin Cities is working to change that making sure no child slips through the cracks.

The Irreducible Grace Foundation says about half of the youth who age out of the foster care system don't graduate from high school and won't have a job by the time they're 23 years old. About 25 percent will be homeless. Last year in Minnesota, there were more than 9,000 kids living in foster care homes.

The non-profit is on a mission to give youth of color a voice, especially those in the system whether it’s foster care, juvenile justice or treatment. 

"When you're in systems like that, everybody speaks for you,” said Dr. Darlene Fry, the founder of IGF. “They could rattle off they all had five or six workers that spoke for them: lawyers, guardian ad litem, social workers, all kinds of folks. The hard part was most of those guards spoke for them, without knowing who they were.”

With interactive workshops and events, the IGF team helps kids and teens recognize and work through tough times.

"We open up a lot of wounds when we have conversations with these people," said Lashon Hampton, an IGF leader.

Developing trust after you've been let down isn't easy. Leaders, like Hampton, are making connections with youth by digging deep into their own problems and sharing their struggles and successes.

"I wish I had somebody there, trying to guide me, trying to show me the things I know now,” said Hampton. “So for me to be able to pass that back and know that I could possibly help stop something more traumatic in the future."

IGF looks to give vulnerable youth a safe place to share their stories and develop positive relationships with adults.

The Irreducible Grace Foundation hosts workshops for youth on the third Sunday of each month.

Saturday, the team is hosting a public workshop focused on creating healing spaces and finding different ways to express yourself artistically. The session, which is for both youth and adults, will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Dunning Rec Center in St. Paul.

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