Last week, UCF’s newest club, “Golden Hearts,” hosted its first impact event. Approximately 30 students showed up for what was a well orchestrated and informative event. Golden Hearts, as explained by Secretary Valerie Cooper, is “on its way to becoming a [registered student organization], and should hopefully be approved by the spring.”

“We’re an organization that exists to help foster youth and former foster youth with the transition for high school to college. Less than 10% of former foster youth make it to college and we want to try to increase that number. We create positive relationships with foster youth through mentoring and creating a place where these students feel like they belong once they make it to the university,” Cooper told KnightNews.com.

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The presentation started off with the Youtube video, “Aging Out.” The video displayed pictures and statistics of a girl in foster care named Erica. When Erica was 18, she had to leave the foster care home she was placed in.

“Consistency is the most common term in foster care” said Amanda Annis.

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Ms. Annis continued to go into some eye-opening and heart-breaking statistics. “Less than half of the children in foster care finish high school and 51% are unemployed by age 22. When they turn 18, if they don’t have a job, they have no income. We have a plan where we give them $1200 per month. If they have a child, that is a whole extra burden for them. I have one child that failed her English class because she couldn’t afford her textbook” Annis said.

The reality is that more and more children are being put into the foster care system and need our support. “They have no place to call, even for simple things such as what temperature they should cook the chicken on. They have the responsibility of being an adult while still being a teen. They don’t feel confident that they can do it. They don’t have that constant support. If you don’t have that person there for you, you are more likely to walk out the door and give up,” Annis went on to explain.

Throughout the presentation, students actively participated by asking several questions, and their responses were heartwarming. After Ms. Annis finished, President Tara Dinosky told her tragic story about her experiences in the foster care system.

For more information about Golden Hearts and how you can get involved, please email goldenheartsucf@gmail.com.