Older Youth Services Celebrates 63 Grads
The Villages provides Older Youth Services (OYS) for kids aging out of foster care, beginning at age 17 up to age 26. This year 63 OYS participants from northeast Indiana and western central Indiana graduated from high school, a huge achievement for all of them. Many of these outstanding individuals will be heading to college or trade school this fall, studying illustration/animation, engineering, social work, welding, and more at Ball State, Indiana State University, and other schools. The Villages celebrated the accomplishments of these students at three different celebrations held at local parks in Terre Haute, Fort Wayne, and Elkhart during the month of June. The events included keynote speakers, graduate speeches, vision boards, and of course food and cake! A few of the OYS graduates and case managers displayed their artistic talents through the decorations, special t-shirts, and personalized painted water bottles.
Each graduate received a soft-sided cooler filled with gifts and gift cards, generously donated by corporate and local partners. And unlike most high school graduates who celebrate with their family and friends, The Villages graduates celebrated with those they consider “family” – their Villages and DCS case managers, foster parents, and each other. Millie McDonald, The Villages OYS Director, included the following in her address at each of the events:
The definition of success means something different to everyone, it is totally individualized and now is the time for you to take a long hard look at where you have come from and what is yet to be. You are the only one who can determine what comes next. You determine your future!
Your success comes from self-awareness and struggles, which every single one of you have fought as you have gotten to where you are! Now is the time to reap the benefits of such, be unique, be confident, demand excellence of yourself, learn self-control and don’t ever doubt that you are worthy of love and great things.
Remember, that you are enough!!
Thank you to all who support our OYS program and for making each of our graduates feel special, appreciated, celebrated, and enough.