Caregiving Youth Project of Volunteers for the Homebound & Family Caregivers
TREASURE TALK
Caregiving Youth Partners' Project Newsletter
 
Caregiving Youth Partners' Projects help identify, recognize, educate and support kids who care for family members.  This allows them to achieve success, have fun and make new friends, while promoting academic growth.  
In This Issue
AT&T GRANT AWARDED TO CYP
CAMP TREASURE SPRING 2009
WHAT IS ADVOCACY?
THE PUBLIC ISSUE LIFE CYCLE
SELF-ADVOCACY AND CAREGIVING
BECOMING A CAREGIVING YOUTH ADVOCATE
"DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY"
GETTING READY FOR SUMMER
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Issue: # 12 April 2009
Dear Reader,

Why was the CYP created?                         jerry stackhouse
 
In Spring of 1998, the same year that our non-profit organization began, I attended the 1st International Conference on Family Caregiving in London where I learned about the effects on children from "young carers".  That summer I went on a mission trip with kids from my church - a boy's dad had recently died, another girl's dad had cancer and other kids were concerned about their parents' and  grandparents' health.  I knew that hospice offered support when a child experienced death, but who was there for kids who were helping family to manage various health conditions at home? 
 
By 2002 I had returned to college to have a bigger voice for family caregivers - yes, the only grandma in my class!  I heard about a survey that the School District in Palm Beach County and Palm Beach Atlantic University were conducting called the "What Works Survey" which was asking students what helps them learn and what doesn't.  The survey included a section on family health situations and the effects on students at school.  The results were profound, but  people weren't really ready to believe them!  I then participated in some national meetings as well as a national advisory board for what was the first U.S. survey on young caregivers which in 2005 conservatively documented that there were more than 1.3 million caregivers ages 8-18 years.
 
The national media then put a face on some of the kids which helped people begin to understand youth caregiving.  In 2006 the Schmidt Family Foundation and the Toppel Family Foundation recognized that our Caregiving Youth Project, which had been more than two years in the development process, was ready to be born and provided initial funding.
 
As a child caregiver myself, I understand the blessings that came from being a caregiver for my grandfather.  I also understand that the responsibilities of a caregiver can compromise a young person's ability to succeed in school.  Our CYP team has worked hard with many individuals and community partners to create ways to provide the support  youth caregivers need for success in school and in life.  It hasn't been easy - we never gave up - it has been a walk in faith with receiving what we needed, not always what we wanted.  Little by little we all created CYP for you, our youth caregivers, to honor and support all that you do for your families!  It takes a community!
 
Connie Siskowski, RN, PhD
Founder and Director
 
 
AT&T GRANT AWARDED TO CYP
Computers and Internet Access
Are Made Available 
 jerry stackhouse
On March 24th the AT&T Foundation presented the Palm Beach County Education Commission in partnership with CYP $100,000 to provide youth caregivers with computers, printers, training and internet access in an effort to enhance their academic performance.  The grant furthers the CYP partnership with the School District of Palm Beach County to mutually promote academic success of students.
 
The Presentation Ceremony was held at Boca Raton Community Middle School.  Marshall Criser, III, President of AT&T Florida presented the donation to Jody Gleason, Executive Director of Palm Beach County Education Commission, Susan Whelchel, Mayor of Boca Raton, Connie Siskowski, CYP Founder and Director, Project partners and VHFC Board members.  Several youth caregivers from Boca Middle shared their experiences as participants in CYP.
 
CAMP TREASURE SPRING 2009 
Caregiving Youth Enjoy a Special Weekend  
 
Twenty-one youth caregivers enjoyed swimming, music, camp treasure 09crafts, a campfire and other fun activities at the fifth Camp Treasure on April 17th and 18th. This was the first camp attended by students from all five schools which are in partnerships with CYP: Boca, Congress, Lantana, Palm Springs and Okeeheelee Middle Schools.
 
CYP staff, AmeriCorps, college and other volunteers hosted the youth caregivers during this very special weekend.  With the bond of caregiving, it didn't take long for new friendships and support for the future to form!

WHAT IS ADVOCACY?  

The active support of an idea or cause, especially the act of pleading or arguing for something;
 
The pursuit of influencing outcomes, including public policy and  distribution of resources and money to support a cause;
 
The act of arguing in favor of, or supporting something; the act of supporting someone to make his or her voice heard.
THE PUBLIC ISSUE LIFE CYCLE 
A few years ago no one knew about youth caregivers. 
 campers 09
When politicians and leaders realized that many adults take care of their sick or disabled family  members,  the government and many organizations wanted to help these adult caregivers.    People didn't realize that in the US many children and young adults are caregivers, too.
 
THE PROBLEM: Getting the government, professionals and the public to recognize the contribution of youth caregivers to their families and to our society. 
 
WHAT IS THE PUBLIC ISSUE LIFE CYCLE?  The process of getting the government, agencies and advocates to acknowledge and support the contribution of youth caregivers in their struggle to care for family members and successfully attend school.
 
THE PHASES OF THE PUBLIC ISSUE LIFE CYCLE:
 
Phase One: Raising awareness of the facts and sensitivity about the issue.
Phase Two: The media, government, social agencies, general public and advocates for children and adolescents start to recognize youth caregiving  as a very important social issue.
Phase Three: The government begins to establish policies that support youth caregivers in the US.
 
Under Dr. Connie's direction and with the help of the whole CYP team, WE ARE NOW IN PHASE TWO OF THE PUBLIC ISSUE LIFE CYCLE! 
 
 
SELF-ADVOCACY AND CAREGIVING
Advocacy Begins With Taking
Care of Yourself
 
 advocacy
Self-advocacy means taking the responsibility for telling people what you need and want as you care for a family member.  This includes:
  • Speaking up for yourself;
  • Knowing and being able to describe your strengths, needs and wishes;
  • Taking responsibility for important things you want to happen in your life;
  • Knowing where to go when you need help.

From our youth caregivers, on becoming self-advocates: 

 "CYP has helped me deal with stressful things because caring for my mother, I go through many emotions.  The Project helps me maintain my composure and keeps me from breaking down." - Juan B
 
"I've enjoyed going to Camp Treasure, Skills Building Group, Club Treasure and the Bonefish Grille Etiquette Class. I have fun and the Project teaches me life lessons." - Marica D 
BECOMING A CAREGIVING YOUTH ADVOCATE
Setting the Nation's Standard
 becoming advocate
Our youth caregivers are setting the standard as the first formally recognized youth caregivers in our nation.  Those of us who are working to identify and support you are learning from you every day.
 
What have we learned?  
  • We respect everything that you do for your families.  The care you give is so important.
  • We know that you need help to succeed in school and want to give you that support.
  • Knowing that you are not the only youth caregivers in your schools and communities gives you strength. 
  • As you understand what being a youth caregiver really means, you are reaching out to other youth caregivers to offer your support.

From one of our youth caregivers:

"CYP has made it possible for me to talk to people going through what I'm going through.  I can help them."
- Ashley C
"DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY"
Camp Treasure camp treasure 09 music
Song Writing Project,
Music Therapy Program 
 
Here's a little song I wrote.
You might want to sing it note for note.
Don't worry, Be happy. 
In every life we have some trouble,
But when you worry you make it double.
Don't worry, Be happy.
 
My mom may die while I'm away.
I might come home and cry all day.
Don't worry, Be happy.
A nuclear bomb may cause us trouble,
Turn the whole town into rubble.
Don't worry, Be happy.
Ooooh...Don't worry, Be happy.
 
If there's no food in the world tomorrow,
Not enough money, have to beg or borrow,
Don't worry, be happy.
Might get a scholarship to go to college, 
But have to stay home to watch my mama.
Don't worry, Be happy.
Ooooh...Don't worry, Be happy. 
 
Looking for a job for next year,
The thought fills me with so much fear.
Don't worry, Be happy.
My grandma might just get sick,
She might die and leave me heartsick.
Don't worry, Be happy.
Ooooh...Don't worry, Be happy. 
 
It's devastating to fight with my friend.
Don't want the friendship to come to an end.
Don't worry, Be happy.
If I don't pass and get held back,
I might get stuck serving Big Macs.
Don't worry, Be happy.
Ooooh...Don't worry, Be happy.
 
CYP Campers
and
The Palm Beach Music Therapy Institute
April 2009
 
 
The Palm Beach Music Therapy Institute, where music is medicine for the mind, body and soul.
GETTING READY FOR SUMMER
FREE SUMMER CAMP
offered through the Sheriff's Office for
ages 6-12
 sun
 
Coming this summer: 
  • UK Young Carers Festival Videoconference
  • Deep Sea Fishing
  • Treasure Tales Writing Seminar
  • Camp Treasure Reunion
  • Back to School Bash
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
 
"We don't remember the words of our enemies;
we remember the silence of our friends."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
Caregiving is all about caring for ourselves, our families and our communities.  We are proud of our youth caregivers, who teach us how important it is to not remain silent about the needs of caregivers and their families,but rather to become stronger and more effective advocates. 
 
Sincerely,

Millie Barber, MD and Jen Craven, Literacy AmeriCorps Member
Editors 
Caregiving Youth Project
of Volunteers for the Homebound & Family Caregivers