We would like to introduce you to our September Participants of the Month, Shanna’s family. Shanna and her husband are foster parents to three incredible boys. Please continue reading to learn more about Shanna’s family and their experiences.
Q. Tell us about yourself and your family
My husband and I became foster parents in 2018. Many foster families focus on infants, toddlers, and younger children. To help fill that gap, my husband and I concentrate our care on older school-aged children, often 9-17 y/o. We entered into the foster care system with clear intentions of introducing young people to the incredible outdoor recreation opportunities vastly available in our area. We know that generating an interest and showing the ease of access to recreation in our area could open these children’s eyes to possibilities otherwise unknown – be it career pathways in the recreation & tourism industry or simply an ever-available outlet for trauma-induced behaviors. Additionally, studies have proven that children participating in extracurricular activities are less likely to turn to drug-use, an increasing epidemic in our area. Because children in care often miss sign-ups or come from homes that may be less encouraging of extracurricular activities, teaching these youth how and where to play outside is a free and easy alternative that they can share with truly anyone anytime– no tryouts or sign-up deadlines.
Q. Why are you and your family Active? How did you start?
My husband and I have always been active. We raft, ski, hike, fish, camp and are what some may refer to generically as “outdoorsy-type”. We are closely attuned to the incredible outdoor recreational resources that our area has to offer.
Q. What motivated you and your family to participate in an Active SWV program
As foster parents, children in our care often move from neighboring counties. I wanted to help the children in our care socialize and feel a part of our community. We had hiked and rafted as a family, but I was hoping to generate a sense of belonging through participation. Additionally, when the children currently in our care came to us, they did not have bikes.
Active SWV provided the opportunity to introduce our children to outdoor recreation activities by supplying the equipment. And, all without any charge. After our first Active SWV experience, we made it a weekly routine to attend an Active SWV program.
Q. How do you and your family stay motivated? Why is being active a priority for you and your family?
Being active is an absolute must for our family. When the children currently in our care first came to us, their conversations existed only to speak of being in foster care and the foster care system. As we began introducing more active opportunities, their conversations changed. They began looking forward to weekly bike rides with the Active SWV crew asking when our next adventure would be or gushing ‘big fish’ stories of our trips.
Furthermore, the children’s behaviors are improved when they have an adventure to look forward to and/or after an energetic activity. Participating in activities that keep the children moving not only stimulates their brains but also allows them to be more focused later in the day.
Q. Why do you think someone should join an Active SWV free program?
Active SWV’s Community Captains offers incredible knowledge and resources surrounding their programs. Participating in an Active SWV program helps to create a sense of community and is a great way to meet and network with like-minded folks, people who are enjoying our area to its fullest capacity.
Q. Do you have any words of encouragement for families thinking about participating in an Active SWV program?
I strongly encourage families supporting children in foster care to participate in an Active SWV program. It’s a great relationship builder for your family, helps children develop a sense of community belonging, and can wear the kids out enough for a strong night’s sleep.
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