One of the trickiest times for young people is when they transition from child to adult, as it often means losing access to the services they qualified for while under-18.
In the UK, this issue is extremely problematic as kids leave CAMHS [Child Adolescent Mental Health Services] and find themselves either unable to access free services or no longer able to see the counsellor they have been working with now that they are no longer of age.
Similarly, this problem happens for foster children who hit 18 only to discover they are left to their own devices and face the reality of homelessness as they struggle to find a home.
However, one man has swept in to save as many young people as possible who fall through the gaps with his incredible initiative Project Meet Me Halfway.
The organisation, based in the US, raises awareness of youth ageing out of foster care with high risk of becoming homeless with the hope of ‘meeting them halfway’ to find solutions.
Having experienced homelessness himself at the tender age of 16, founder Jimmy Wayne grew up in and out of the North Carolina foster care system before sleeping on the streets.
However, with grit and determination he turned his life around and is now living proof that change can happen providing young people have opportunity and hope around them.
Not only did Jimmy find a home, but he also went on to become a country music recording artist and best-selling author, before starting his charity to improve the lives of foster kids.
In honour of his company’s name, Project Meet Me Halfway, Jimmy walked halfway across America – from Nashville, Tennessee to Phoenix, Arizona – to draw attention to the plight of the 30,000 foster children ageing out of the system each year.
Just a casual seven months and 1,700 miles later, Jimmy completed his journey at the Home Base Youth Facility in Phoenix before kickstarting his foundation back in 2010.
His aim was to highlight the devastating statistics that haunt America and showcase what happens when people don’t get help: notably, 25% of former foster kids become homeless after age 18; 50% will be unemployed; and 60% of males will be convicted of a crime.
By meeting the teens ‘halfway’, Jimmy’s message is about telling young people that he wants to help them strive towards a better future, but they have to at least meet him halfway. In other words, they have to work hard to help themselves in order to be helped.
Jimmy now works tirelessly to secure donations, of which 100% are distributed to organisations that serve foster kids, abused and neglected children, and those ageing out of foster care.
He also encourages people to recognise that no resource is too small, should they not have the cash to donate. For example, if people cut hair they can gift one hour a week to foster kids who otherwise can’t afford a haircut; or locals can offer time by tutoring, teaching yoga, playing basketball, or sharing whatever skill they have.
For more info, click here: Project Meet Me Halfway.