Vol. 16, No. 2 • May 2012

SaySo Turns 14

by Nancy Carter, Executive Director, ILR, Inc.

SaySo celebrated its 14th birthday on March 3, 2012 at what we like to call the largest family reunion in North Carolina—SaySo Saturday!

SaySo Saturday 2012
The first Saturday in March is traditionally our annual SaySo membership conference. Guilford Technical Community College has been host to this conference since 2000. This year 215 people registered. Those who came had a full day of laughing, learning, and leadership.

I started the day by reminding attendees why SaySo started and how, year by year, young people in foster care are reclaiming their voice. They have become more vocal in their CFTs, transition planning meetings, court hearings, and school meetings. Youths are speaking to policy makers about how life in foster care is different and how it can be improved.

I also challenged SaySo members to use their talents and strengths to further the mission of SaySo and create a “System of Change.” There are many ways members can get involved, including running for the board of directors, participating in Page week, joining the “Raise the Age” campaign, becoming a SaySo Regional Assistant, joining or starting a local chapter, and speaking to local policy makers about how to improve the lives of young people in foster care.

Joanne Scaturro then presented a humorous session on “Advocacy and Laughter.” She had the room learning through laughter about ways to keep the youth voice a continuous force to improve foster care. Lauren Zingraff, SaySo Program Coordinator, and the current youth Board of Directors then facilitated the rest of the conference, which included a range of workshops led or co-led by youth, elections, large group games, and a celebration luncheon.

Throughout attendees were urged to visit the new SaySo website (www.saysoinc.org), register online for conferences, and get current LINKS information. Three new chapters (in Gaston, Iredell, and Randolph counties) were also inducted; we now have 24 local chapters across North Carolina. Lunch was sponsored by the Fenwick Foundation.

New SaySo Board
SaySo Saturday ended with the election of a youth Board of Directors for 2012-13. The following 20 directors were elected:

Region 1: Kelley T., David R., Lora E., and Charles H.

Region 2: Shaquanda G., Christopher W., and Sarah F.

Region 3: Corae H., Ladajah H., Tressina J.

Region 4: Damonique L., Mahdi K., Erica F., Marcella M.

Region 5: Shanita G., Megan H., and Shatequa W.

Region 6: Princess H., Marie S., Kristen B.

The 2012-13 board will attend a three-day leadership training retreat in June which will include a ropes course. A commissioning ceremony will conclude the retreat as board members accept their one-year term to serve and represent all foster youths in North Carolina. During the year, Board members will plan and facilitate a variety of youth conferences such as LINK-Up and “It’s My Transition.” They’ll also participate in a variety of projects in collaboration with SaySo partners and the state LINKS program. Members plan to attend and facilitate a workshop at the National Independent Living Association’s annual “Growing Pains” Conference scheduled for September in Atlanta.

Upcoming SaySo Events

SaySo Survivor VII. May 4-6, Efland. This leadership retreat features guest speaker Tony Brazil and activities such as campfires, canoeing, horseback riding, and s’mores.

SaySo Page Week. June 25-29, Raleigh. This is a chance for high school SaySo members to work side-by-side with NC Senators and Representatives.

It’s My Transition. This one-day seminar for youth age 16+ is held in July, November, and April in various locations in North Carolina.

LINK-UP Conferences. One-day conferences for youth ages 13-16 held in August and January. They offer activities related to communication, empowerment, diversity, and life skills.
For more information, visit www.saysoinc.org.

~ Family and Children's Resource Program, UNC-CH School of Social Work ~