By Nyesha Stone
Santana Lee was never officially in the foster care system, but it sure felt like it. She went from one family member to the next, experiencing different traumas among other issues, but she never knew that she’d be the one to help children just like her.
Back in 2016, she officially adopted her three cousins and became a foster parent. This decision influenced her to speak with young people in the foster care system. She discovered some troubling things that the youth experienced including sex trafficking and homelessness.
She always assumed that little kids have the most trouble in the system, but it’s the teens, she said.
All4Kidz started back in September of 2017 with the mission to “inspire, encourage and strengthen our youth by providing social education and information support services as we prepare them to age out of the foster care system.”
Lee funds All4Kidz mostly through her own money, but there’s only so much she can do. Every year, she hosts a fundraiser to help with the cost.
“No one I knew at the time was shining a light on the situation,” she said, so, she created All4Kidz, a nonprofit and support group for youth in the foster care system.
All4Kidz provides a safe place for self-healing support, Lee explained.
Every week, Lee hosts two social groups, one with the girls and with the boys, to discuss the youth’s traumas and to help them deal with whatever they may be going through. They meet from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and are provided a free dinner.
Lee’s favorite activity to do during their meetings is to draw a big heart on construction paper and cut it.
Each participant then grabs a few pieces to write down things that have hurt them, then all of the pieces are put back together in a heart by band aids.
This exercise is to help them “heal from their hurt and trauma,” Lee said.
Lee said it’s important to focus on the healing process because you can give youth all the resources they need, but if they’re not fully healed from their traumas, that other stuff doesn’t matter.
Although Lee focuses on foster care youth, she said “you can be traumatized anywhere, so don’t judge.”
She said we need to stop judging one another and be more willing to listen to those with different life experiences than our own.
“Don’t make them feel different,” she said. “They are people [and] they did not ask for the situation they’re in.”
If you would like to donate to All4Kidz you can mail a check to P.O. Box 16645 Milwaukee, WI 53216.