How Foster Care Led To The Evolution of FITNESS PROJECT + How We Can Help Those In Foster Care as They Age Out of The System
There are many important causes in our local communities that FITNESS PROJECT® strives to make an impact and difference. One that is very close to the heart of CEO, Bryan Murphy, his wife (VP of Fitness), Kristi Murphy, and their family is foster care awareness. What began as an effort to help a foster child resulted in an inspiring transformation of their hearts, home, and business. I’m sure it’s easy to understand the transformation as it relates to their hearts and homes as they have now fully adopted Matteo, initially their foster child. Other than being adorable (just check out his picture with his family), he’s always on the go and has given them both a purpose of being their best and keeping in shape just to keep up.
Transformation and change also took place with their business, inspiring our evolution to FITNESS PROJECT, where fitness can elevate your life and the community through a gym that empowers you to give back so you can benefit others while benefiting yourself. We believe there is power in PURPOSE and that’s really the idea behind the success of FITNESS PROJECT and the results members are experiencing on their fitness journey. See the full story behind the EVOLUTION OF FITNESS PROJECT.
If you didn’t realize, May is National Foster Care Month, a time to recognize that we can each play a part in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care.
Check Out How A Foster Child Can Also Enhance The Life Of a Family
Interview with Bryan & Kristi Murphy with Tara Hutton: Provided by Mama’s Well Podcast with Tara Hutton
Starting in 1988, U.S. Presidents issued annual proclamations in recognition of National Foster Care Month to show appreciation and gratitude to foster parents across the nation. The purpose of National Foster Care Month continues to evolve based on the needs of the time. Current activities focus on increasing the visibility of the needs of children and youth in foster care and highlighting how the child welfare system can prioritize foster care as a service to families and promote reunification. Foster Care Month is an initiative led and promoted by the Children’s Bureau. Just as important as raising the visibility of foster care is the visibility and support still needed for those that are aging out of foster care. Enter Angel Reach…
ANGEL REACH: Breaking The Cycle
An important organization that FITNESS PROJECT has begun to partner with is Angel Reach, founded in Conroe, Texas, whose mission (and principal purpose) is to break the generational cycle of abuse, neglect, and homelessness by equipping aged-out foster youth and homeless youth (16-24) with skills so they can live independently. They also provide critical services and support to relatives doing their best to keep children out of the foster care system. Angel Reach has THREE PROGRAMS that support the families and youth that we serve.
- Community Youth Outreach Resource Center (CYO) is a collaborative initiative designed to meet the needs of youth between the ages of 16-24 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Montgomery County, Texas.
- Angel Reach’s Transitional Living Program offers young adults who have aged out of foster care a safe, temporary residence as they transition into society. Each year 200-300 youth age out of foster care in the greater Houston area. The majority of these young people lack the necessary life skills to make the next steps to becoming productive adults.
- Angel Reach’s Kinship Care Program assists kinship placement families. When a child is removed from a home and placed with a relative, their caregivers receive no assistance from governmental agencies – this is a Kinship family. Angel Reach assists these families with their day-to-day living needs, including emergency food, clothing, furniture, and home repairs. We also provide referrals to community resources and caregiver support groups and host special holiday events.
Jean Radach, Angel Reach Executive Director
Because of numerous distressing reasons, many children and youth in our community live away from their natural birth parents, in foster care and kinship homes. These young people are at extreme risk of life-long poverty, homelessness, substance abuse, early death, and unproductive or under-productive lives.
The statistics of what becomes of these teens just because they are aging is staggering:
- 46% graduate from high school
- 3% will get a 4-year degree
- 50% are homeless within the first year
- 7 out of 10 girls become pregnant before they turn 21 and 70% of their children end up in the CPS system
- 27% of the males are incarcerated
- 55% suffer from addiction(s)
Although Angel Reach explains that these statistics are daunting to begin with, their programs show a continual increase in the number of youth that “graduate” from the program every year. In meeting their immediate needs and providing guidance along the path of “life”, our young people are having positive outcomes.
The short-term impact of Angel Reach’s efforts is to provide for the youth’s basic and emergency needs. The long-term goal is for the youth to obtain emotional stability and financial independence within 4 years. The bigger long-term picture goal is to break the generational cycle of abuse, neglect, poverty, and homelessness making our communities stronger than ever – which aligns very nicely with Fitness Project’s goals for our communities: All For One, One For All!
Each May, we take time to acknowledge foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals, and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections. Let’s use this time to renew our commitment to ensuring a bright future for the more than 423,000 children and youth in foster care and celebrate those who make a meaningful difference in their lives.
Be on the lookout for ways you can make a difference by supporting Angel Reach! Upcoming volunteer opportunities are being announced soon, just keep an eye on the Project Wall at your local FITNESS PROJECT club.