Through the Eyes of Youth

National CASA recently provided a unique educational opportunity for six talented former foster youth: a chance to learn how to tell their stories through video. As described in The Connection, the youth were invited to participate in a two-day video workshop led by filmmaker Dan Birman.

Then the young adults were given high-definition cameras to take home. (Thanks to Dan Birman for negotiating a deep discount for the cameras.) Their assignment: produce videos documenting their personal stories.

The resulting videos were raw, deeply personal and powerful. Many had moments that were heart-breaking; but ultimately, they told inspiring stories of resilience, dedication and success. We are pleased to share four of the videos with you.

Janessa Lee:

“All youth have the same potential. We may not have the same goals, but we all have the potential to succeed. But why are expected to trust the system or to trust people and be successful in a world where we haven’t been allowed to trust anyone?”


Camisha Nettles:

“It was so hard graduating high school with a 2½-year-old, but I did it. I walked the stage with my daughter. It was one of the best days of my life. I felt like Superwoman; I had an S on my chest.”


Candace Kaimuloa:

“Because of my CASA volunteer, I’m going to college, I’m doing what I needed to do. She pestered me all the time, every day, but she knew what was best.”


Suamhirs Rivera:

“Finally, someone came to show me the America that I wanted to see: my CASA volunteer Marcus. Marcus introduced me to a world full of joy, free of pain, free of failure.”


Two of the videos have been highlighted for special recognition. Candace Kaimuloa’s story was recognized by CBS Television at a reception in New York City. Candace received a tour of the CBS television center in New York, and she will be consulting on National CASA’s next CBS Cares public service announcement.

Through the Eyes of Youth

Candace with National CASA CEO Michael Piraino

Suamhirs Rivera’s video was recognized at the 13th Annual Jewelers for Children Gala, held at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, NV. Suamhirs was invited to attend and speak about how his CASA volunteer helped him transition to adulthood.

One more note: the youth were given the cameras to keep. We are looking forward to seeing and hearing their stories as their lives continue to unfold.

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One Response to Through the Eyes of Youth

  1. Yenny says:

    DeniseMay 4, 2012Nick is raising money to build elvateed garden beds for Santa’s Senior Center in North Pole, Alaska. His stand is in Bentley Mall in Fairbanks. Please come help support our seniors.

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