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Students light up the stage with stories of personal trials for foster care youth awareness

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By Leo Cabral

Spoken word poetry, rap and beatboxing may simply be seen as hobbies to some, but to RCC and UCR foster youth, it is a way to cope with the world.

The Guardian Scholars Program at RCC and UCR collaborated and organized their fourth annual “Voices and Visions” benefit May 16 for Foster Care Awareness Month at the Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts.

This year’s theme was “Light Through Darkness,” a theme that many foster youth can closely relate to in their personal lives.

Many in foster care face  hardships and discrimination. Events like “Voices and Visions” provide a safe platform for foster youth to open up and share their experiences with others.

Jeremy Johnson, foster youth specialist, is familiar with the obstacles many students encounter.

“I think events like this really spread light on the challenges that foster youth go through,” Johnson said. “Every day having those challenges like: where are they going to live? What are they going to eat? Those are real challenges.”

A woman from the audience approached RCC Guardian Scholar student Marco Romero after the closing performance, something that caught him off guard.

“Even though I didn’t think I had the power to do so to someone, she was really touched about what I had to say and I thanked her because I don’t really feel like people listen to me,” Romero said.

He believes the applause after a performance is more of a mechanical social expectation.

“They just applaud because that’s what everyone else is doing,” he said. “But for someone to actually approach me, that actually meant a lot.”

First time performer Daisy “Flower” Lopez from UC Riverside did a piece on abuse in a home environment. Having faced discrimination and insensitive remarks from peers unfamiliar with the foster care experience like, “You don’t seem damaged enough to have been in foster care,” she finds comfort and understanding amongst other Guardian Scholars and attendees at benefits like “Voices and Visions.”

“A lot of people were able to relate,” Lopez said. “I  mean, I’m not glad because it’s kind of scary to go through that but at least they know that somebody can go up there and just say ‘This is my story. We’re here. F what everybody else says. You made it.’”

For more information on the Guardian Scholars Program visit Digital Library Room 112.

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