As part of our commitment to helping kids achieve safety, stability and enduring family relationships, CEDARS endeavors to help kids catch up on what they might have missed out on due to difficult circumstances in their lives, so that they can compete with their peers on equal footing.
Recently, several teens living with CEDARS-supported foster families had the opportunity to take an ACT prep class at CEDARS.
The class instructor was impressed by the kids’ diligence and hard work. When the class series was finished, and the kids all passed “with flying colors,” the CEDARS team wanted to reward them for this positive step in their lives and encourage them to continue pursuing their education.
We arranged with one of our state supreme court judges for the kids to take a tour of the courtroom.
Because of their history in the child welfare system, the kids had all been in courtrooms before, and had not all had pleasant experiences. CEDARS staff were aware that the tour might bring back painful memories and were prepared to help them should the emotions be overwhelming.
The good news is that the kids were delighted to meet the judge and impressed her with their show of interest and smart questions. At the end of the tour, the judge took the kids to her chambers and presented them each with a strange looking key. She asked the kids if any of them knew what kind of key it was. After a few guesses, one of the kids guessed that it was a skeleton key.
Correct, she said.
The judge then went on to explain that a skeleton key can open any locked door. Our choices, she told the kids, are like keys. Some of them will open a single door. But some choices, like going to college, will open many doors.
On the drive back to CEDARS, the kids couldn’t stop talking about how cool it was to meet the judge and how they would think about their choices differently from now on.
This simple act by a caring community member, taking time out of her day and offering encouraging words, will have a lasting impression on the lives of these kids long into their futures.