FYA partners with Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Baker &– McKenzie law firm for Bay Area foster youth leadership opportunity
FYA partners with HP Enterprise and Baker &– McKenzie law firm for Bay Area foster youth leadership opportunity: Youth Leader Susan Page gives her perspective
FYA had the unique opportunity to partner with the incredible pro bono team of the international law firm Baker-McKenzie and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to design and deliver a special youth leadership event for youth and young adults the day prior to Baker’s third annual Children’s Rights Summit at HPE’s Headquarters in the heart of Silicon Valley. Susan Page, a youth leader representing FYA partner California Youth Connection, attended this event, as well as the powerful Children’s Rights Summit the next day. Here’s what she learned!
On December 5th & 6th, youth and young adult leaders from VOICES Napa/Sonoma chapter, California Youth Connection (CYC), Silicon Valley Children’s Fund (SVCF) and Foster Youth In Action (FYA) attended the Children’s Rights Summit. Organized by the Law Firm Baker McKenzie and HP Enterprise, The Children’s Summit sought to bring together children’s rights advocates, law firm lawyers and technology experts from around the nation to engage in meaningful discussions about the legal needs and the rights of children in America.
On Monday and Tuesday, me and other committed children advocates got the opportunity to participate in a professional development all day workshop, meet with legal professionals, had breakfast with Rafael Lopez, outgoing Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and ended with the opportunity to serve on a panel of young adults.
On Monday we all learned that our hard work in the advocacy world gave us an advantage in acquiring a job. As an advocate we all understand hardship, perseverance, and have a special type of resilience that sets us apart from others. We are driven toward leadership, because we have had to be our own leaders in life, and thus we understand the rights that children should have in life no matter what economic, color, or ethnic status they associate with. We were able to meet with professionals that advised us in resume work and interviewing work. We got coached in public speaking and learned how to speak about topics with hand gestures, pauses, and when to say words or phrases in a way that will get our conversational tone across to our audience.
Over breakfast on Tuesday, Commissioner Lopez instilled in us that the best thing we all could do as advocates is believe in our individual story and use this as a strength. We learned that policy and legal advocacy is missing the emotional true stories of individuals and that it was a duty of ours to change children’s rights with our stories and in turn inspire others to tell theirs. The last thing we got to participate in, was a panel where we shared our experience over the two day Summit. As advocates we said more youth needed to be involved, and that may be next year a group of advocates could participate in leading portions of the Summit. As an advocate I saw hope as I contributed and attended the Summit. I found empowerment as I found myself among people from Google, Intel, Hewitt Packard Enterprise, other tech companies, and a plethora of legal advocates. Having the experience of participating in the Children’s Rights Summit instilled in me and other advocates that change in children’s rights was possible, and our involvement in the advocacy world was going to make change happen.