Jimmy Getting Ready to Walk

Jimmy Getting Ready to Walk
Jimmy Wayne on January 1, 2010 at Monroe Harding at the launch of MMH.

Jimmy Wayne Meet Me Halfway: a Journey to Raise Awareness

On January 1, 2010, Jimmy Wayne launched his Meet Me Halfway campaign when he began his solo walk halfway across America in Nashville, TN. He plans to walk to Phoenix, AZ. Jimmy’s intention is not only to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless, especially at risk children, teens and young adults, but also raise funds for organizations that benefit homeless youth.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Walking through Arkansas

Today Jimmy shared with us via ustream his visit to a Job Corps site in Little Rock, Arkansas. It was moving to see the interactions between Jimmy and the young people. It reminds us all of the purpose of MMH.
As Jimmy travels through different states, I will be sharing data so that we can all have an idea of how many young people are in foster care, what resources are available, and, what issues they are facing in that state. Through Jimmy’s stories I have also become concerned about the number of children that are at risk for homelessness and I will be sharing that information, too.

In Arkansas, there are currently 3,253 children in foster care. 54% of foster care children in Arkansas experience three or more foster care placements! 500 of the foster care youth are in group homes or institutional settings.

As Jimmy illustrates through his personal stories, life is particularly difficult for older youth in foster care. In Arkansas, 620 young people in the foster care system are aged 16-21. Arkansas allows youth to stay in foster care after reaching eighteen years of age if they are enrolled in a qualified educational, treatment, or work program. Youth that are not involved in these specific programs age out at 18 and are on their own. Annually, 230 youth age out of foster care in Arkansas.

Jimmy shared with us today the educational and career training opportunities provided by Job Corps there in Little Rock. Services are available to youth as they move through the foster care system. The Arkansas Independent Living Grant Program works with foster teens to teach them basic life skills as they transition to adulthood. The Program is educationally oriented and encourages youth to remain in school until graduation from high school and will then assist them with their post-secondary educational needs and training. Foster youth and former foster youth are eligible for funds to enable them to attend colleges, universities and vocational training institutions. Students may receive up to $5000 a year for four years as they pursue higher education. So, for those youth coming through the foster care system in Arkansas that are college-ready or ready for vocational school, funding is available to assist. The reality is that in all states many young people are just not aware of the resources available to them, or are not at a point in their lives where they are ready to accept the services being offered.

When I began thinking about youth homelessness, I had the stereotype in my mind that homelessness is an urban issue. The more I research, the more I realize that homelessness is an American issue – impacting the rural areas as much as the urban areas. The National Center on Family Homelessness ranked states in how homeless children fare in that state – with a ranking of 1 being good and 50 being the worst. Arkansas ranks 48th! Close to 19,000 Arkansas children experience homelessness each year. Poverty is rampant in Arkansas. Of the 250,000 children living in poverty in Arkansas, eight out of every one hundred children (8%) are homeless.

In Arkansas, like the rest of the United States, too many young people are in foster care, and too many young people are at risk of homelessness. The statistics only strengthen the importance that all of us walk alongside Jimmy -- Creating Change: Step by Step, Heart by Heart.

Dreama
February 3, 2010

Jimmy took a break from walking for a St. Jude's Benefit Concert on February 1, 2010 in Connecticut. Eva (Julietcat67) attended the show and shared this great photo of Jimmy. She had an opportunity to talk with Jimmy and he gave her a stack of MMH cards to hand out. She is busy spreading the WORD!

1 comment:

  1. I am with you Dreama! In Kentucky 764 aged out this past year. When I drive down the road even here in Bowling Green I often look to see if there are around or thinking of where I can find some of the youth that keep wandering our streets! My hearts longs to bring families together with those youth just like that family that took in Jimmy and became "parents" to him! We are standing in the gap and ready to "walk!" I am thankful for your heart and passion! Keep up the good work!

    Elaine Bateman
    Mrs. Kentucky International 2010

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