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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU holds statewide conference for youth moving on from foster care system

The New Mexico State University School of Social Work and the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department will hold a conference for young people ages 16-23 who are moving on from the foster care system.

The statewide Independent Living Youth Conference, scheduled Aug. 9-11, is being held on the NMSU campus for the first time.

"We are really excited to be hosting the conference as it will give the youth exposure to the college experience and hopefully get them thinking about entering college," said Sarah Boone, project coordinator with the Family and Child Welfare Training and Research Project.

National speakers, social gatherings and exercises at the conference will help those attending learn life skills.

"The conference gives the kids the tools and experience they need to make a transition. It also allows them to network with each other and share ideas," said Shelley Bucher, project director with the Family and Child Welfare Research Project.

An interactive exercise that introduces youth to the costs of living on their own through a simulation of real-life experiences will be held for the first time at the conference.

"The 'Mock City' exercise will be valuable to the kids because it will give them some guidance and show them what life outside of the system is really like. As foster children some of them have missed out on certain instructions and life skills, and with this simulation they will receive important resources," Bucher said.

Tom Sparough, a national speaker known as the "Space Painter," will juggle while giving a motivational lecture that promotes self-esteem, skill development and team building.

Lacey E. Daniell
Aug. 4, 2006