“I thought my life was over.
I couldn’t believe this was what my life had become.”
That is how 27-year-old Krista James describes her years after foster care when she was living in homeless shelters because she had no place else to go.
Krista by Heather Walsh
Please help make the Everybody Needs Someone Book & Photography Exhibition possible.
up is hard for everyone. But for a child raised in foster care with no
family to fall back on, the transition to adulthood can be particularly
Removed from their birth parents for abuse, neglect or abandonment, foster kids typically grow up in various foster families and group homes. Those homes may last for as little as a few days or as long as a few years, but they rarely provide enough stability to ground kids with the education and skills they need to start out on their own.
When these children turn 21, they officially “age out” of foster care. That means they’re no longer entitled even to minimum room and board from the foster care system. All of a sudden, they have to fend for themselves.
Nationwide, about 20,000 of the 542,000 children in foster care “age out” each year. Five percent of them – about 1,100 young adults – are left on their own in the New York City area.
What happens to them?
SalaamGarage Local/NYC has created the Everybody Needs Someone, Aging-Out of Foster Care Project to exhibit and publish the images and stories of former foster youth in our area who have experienced “aging-out” for themselves. We are a group of 25+ professional photographers and journalists who believe in the power of storytelling to inspire thoughtful conversation and lasting change. Facts and statistics just don’t cut it, what we are doing is putting a story, a name, and a face to untold stories.
Ian Spanier, Heather Walsh, Moya McAllister, Matt Furman, Jordan Hollender, Robert Hooman, Amelia Coffaro, Lisa Weatherbee, Alejandra Villa, Jim Sewastynowicz, Bruce Byers, William Vazquez, Yvonne Allaway
Moya McAllister, Tommy Hallissey, Carrie Vinning Spanier, Mollie Neal, Dimitra Kessenides, Amy Kolz, Patty Paine, Shannon Green, Daphne Eviatar, Luke Whyte, Amy Sernatinger, Vanessa Arriola
Brandon at work in King's County Hospital by Robert Hooman
· The Book: Everybody Needs Someone, Aging-Out of Foster Care in NY is a compilation of more than 15 stories of aged-out foster youth told through beautiful photography and expert writing. Everybody Needs Someone, Aging-Out of Foster Care Book preview here. The book will be available online and at the upcoming exhibition at the Long Island Children’s Museum.
· The Website: As stories are completed they will be added to the website along with a running donor roll from this campaign. In addition, we plan to have story updates on how the aged-out youth are doing, going into the future. Local.SalaamGarage.com.
· The Exhibition: A photography show at The Long Island Children’s Museum (LICM) will introduce children, families, and educators on Long Island to the diversity of youth aging out of the foster care system in NYC and Long Island through large format photographic prints. There will be interactive 3D elements to introduce young kids to foster care, adoption, and multi-race family units. We hope to spark conversations about alternative family structures and the concept that not all children have someone to call mom or dad, grandma or grandpa. We will include QR codes to accompany many of the images so that older museum-goers can read the more detailed stories and see more images from the project. The QR codes enable us to have two exhibitions in one: a child-friendly version, and one that enables older teens, tweens, parents, and educators to delve more deeply into each young adult’s story.
o Where: Long Island Children’s Museum (LICM)
o When: June 16, 2012-September 2, 2012
o Opening: Saturday June 23, 2012
· Family Workshops: Family photography workshops will be held during several weekends throughout the run of the exhibition. We will host fun photoshoots for all families (particularly adoptive and foster families) to have their photos taken and added to the scrapbook style family album wall in the Community Gallery. Each family will be given a print to take home. This campaign makes these photo shoots possible.
o Where: Long Island Children’s Museum (LICM) Community Gallery
o When: 2 weekends. Dates TBA July-August 2012
Please help the SalaamGarageNYC team continue to complete this project. We want to publish and share the stories of young adults who have aged-out of the foster care system in the NYC area. By funding this important upcoming exhibition, special events, and book you become an important team member! We intend on continuing to exhibit this show at other museums and art venues around the east coast, so donations in excess of our fundraising goal already have a purpose.
Maggie Soladay, SalaamGarageNYC Photography Producer
Find us at
Facebook: SalaamGarage on Facebook
The 25+ volunteer media makers on the Aging-Out of Foster Care Team at: http://www.local.salaamgarage.com/meet-us/nyc-aging-out-bios/
young people who participated in this project took time out of their
lives and shared their personal struggles and triumphs because they want
to share and help future generations of aged-out youth. Many are proof
that even adults can be adopted and that youth who have aged out can
find great success when they have someone to turn to in good times and
Recently aged-out young adults face sobering odds. Nationally, 1 in 5 will become Homeless. 1 in 4 will be incarcerated within two years of aging-out. About 1 in 2 young women will be pregnant within one year and only about half will graduate high school.
Help us change the future for former foster youth. Join us!
1) Aquarianne photo (top) by Yvonne Allaway, 2) Krista photo by Heather Walsh, 3) Brandon by Robert Hooman, Nefertiti by Amelia Coffaro, Linda by Ian Spanier, 4) LICM rendering by Heather Walsh, 5)Shirley by Alejandra Villa, Renald by Heather Walsh, Fekri by Bruce Byers, Elijah by Lisa Weatherbee
- (35 days)