By Melanie Williams-Galuten
Four fabulous Palisades High teens have stepped out of the classroom and into the real world with the motivated and selfless desire to help fellow teens…specifically teens in the foster system.
Adopting the famous Rabbinical proverb, “If not me, who? If not now, when?” The fab four freshman team: Emily Schwartz, Prisca Onyenechehe, Samantha Sinaiko and Kayla Tefilin built and designed a website to create awareness of problems and issues facing foster teens.
The 9th graders are members of the “Media Pod” at Pali High that explores how media affects the community. Their assignment was to choose something that matters to them. As a group they decided to focus on teens in foster care and built a website to educate and to facilitate outreach in the Palisades and Brentwood communities. The brutal realities of the problems teens face in foster care really touched the group members and they are extremely motivated to help teens in foster care have hope for a better future.
Their ‘HELP A FOSTER TEEN’ contains a heartfelt introduction, sobering statistics and some links to existing charities that have programs in place to help foster teens where readers can connect and donate. Prisca says the reason for creating a website was “to find ways how to help in the community.” Their hope is to encourage and inspire the community to volunteer, donate or simply spread the word.
Emily posted the site on Nextdoor.com and says that the community response has been great so far and “tons of people have privately messaged us to say that they have donated.” She adds that “the community has been so nice and everyone has been thanking us.”
Samantha points out, “This was an issue I wasn’t aware of before starting this project. I decided it was an important issue to address so awareness could be spread and we can try to overcome this issue together.” The group has already connected with foster charities such as A Sense of Home, Ready to Succeed and Stepping Forward LA and plan on working further with them. This wonderful and worthy website may have started as a school assigned project but the motivated team has decided as a group to continue pursuing this selfless and inspirational project ‘after the bell’. They are excited to keep this worthy enterprise going even after their May 20 school presentation.
Emily is enthusiastic, “Our group has already talked and we are going to continue this and keep updating the website and keep informing people because we’ve seen how much of an impact it already had made and it would be pointless to stop when we could just keep going…I like informing people and it makes me feel good because more people are learning because of what we are sharing.”
Kayla sums it all up, “I believe that this is no longer a class assignment, it’s a game changer.”