Updates from SaySo (Strong Able Youth Speaking Out)
SaySo Welcomes New Program Coordinator
SaySo is pleased to announce its new full-time Program Coordinator, Ms. LeAnn McKoy. A native of Columbus County, Ms. LeAnn earned her bachelor’s from ECU and is pursuing a master’s degree in Public Administration from UNC – Pembroke.
Ms. LeAnn worked in several county departments of social services in a variety of service areas. She has over 15 years of experience in child welfare, including nine as a LINKS Coordinator.
In 2007, she attended her first SaySo event and fell in love with the idea of young adults advocating for themselves and building the capacity in their peers. Ms. LeAnn has been an adult advisor to SaySo since 2012. SaySo adult advisors must be unanimously approved by SaySo’s youth board of directors.
Ms. Leann has traveled for local, state, and national events to support the SaySo Youth Board. She was a key adult that supported guiding the Board in evaluating several recent legislative and policy changes, including the Foster Care Family Act (S.L. 2015-135), which promoted normalcy for youth in care, and NC’s Foster Care 18-21 Program.
Ms. Leann is invested in SaySo and is dedicated to helping this generation of young adults thrive. Her focus is on empowering them to develop their inner potential. Ms. Leann sees SaySo as a family that builds lifelong connections and opportunities for young people to advocate not only for themselves but the thousands of other young adults who have experienced substitute care.
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SaySo Wins Community Voice Award from NC Child
On April 5, 2019, the statewide advocacy group NC Child presented SaySo with the first-ever Community Voices Award in recognition of its ground-breaking advocacy. SaySo, or Strong Able Youth Speaking Out, is a statewide association of youth aged 14 to 24 who are, or have been, in the substitute care system in North Carolina.
“SaySo’s members have first-hand experience of North Carolina’s child welfare system,” said Michelle Hughes, Executive Director of NC Child. “Youth who experience foster care know better than any of us what needs to be done to make that system work for kids who need a safe, stable, loving, and nurturing place to call home.”
In its 21-year history, SaySo has grown from a small group of young people coming together every few months, to 27 chapters across the state and a membership of over 750 young adults.
Carmelita Coleman, SaySo’s program director at Children’s Home Society of NC, notes: “The goal of these young leaders is to help youth and young adults leave foster care with a brighter future, and most of all with the belief that their voices matter.”