The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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Introduction: Finding Our Power
Represent staff

Why do terrible hardships derail some people while others are able to carry on? Where does that power come from? Many researchers have studied resilience, and have found some qualities or situations that seem to help people overcome loss and trauma. Some of those that are under your control include supportive relationships, a belief in something bigger than yourself, a sense of humor, creativity, and helping others.

In this issue of Represent, writers describe how they found their power even in circumstances where many would have given up. In two of the most harrowing stories—“She Couldn’t Make Me Hate My Brother” and “Saving Myself and My Sister,” it’s the love of a sibling that pulls the writer through terrible abuse. In both cases, the writers’ abusers communicated that the writers were worthless; they found their worth and their meaning in rescuing their siblings. Sometimes you can be strong for a loved one even if you feel hopeless for yourself.

For some, the strength to take charge of your life appears when it has to—when you’ve hit bottom. The author of “From Near Death to a Better Life” stopped her drift into drugs and violence after she almost died from an overdose. She acknowledges that she has to do it alone but resolves not to die “a stereotypical minority foster kid.” The writer of “How I Stopped Fighting” is similarly jolted by her first arrest to pull her life together.

Other writers find their power in making art, getting good grades, earning money, forgiving an abusive mother, coming out of the closet, and talking to an accepting therapist.

Adults: Along with the Group Activities, we also include boxes in some of the stories to help you use the story with teens. Even if a teen has different challenges or strengths than the writer, these stories can get teens talking about what they’ve been through and what makes them resilient and powerful.

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