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Ferris to Host Michigan Teen Conference June 19-20

Michigan Teen Conference at Ferris State UniversityFerris State University is hosting the 2013 Michigan Teen Conference on Wednesday, June 19 and Thursday, June 20 at the Big Rapids campus.

The conference is for teens and young adults ages 14 to 21 who are preparing to exit foster care, their caregivers and the professionals who work with them. The program is designed to help those in foster care or independent living learn about money management, educational opportunities, employment, healthy relationships, housing and more.

The keynote presentation on Wednesday will feature Kinetic Affect, spoken word performers  Gabriel Giron and Kirk Latimer. The Kalamazoo-based duo teamed up in 2007 to challenge beliefs, push boundaries, embrace differences as they work collaboratively to increase awareness of local and global issues.

Thursday’s general session is titled, “The Music on the Elevator to the Top,” featuring guest presenter Reco Spencer. Spencer, who spent 18 years in foster care, works to help youth reacquire their dreams and motivation to succeed.

“This statewide conference is for youth leaving foster care and the professionals who work with them,” said David Pilgrim, vice president for Diversity and Inclusion at Ferris. “The young people will be offered workshops about education, employment and leadership.”

Workshops will feature topics related to budgeting/money management, college support programs, employment, funding resources, goal setting, housing, legal rights, self-advocacy, social media, young adult voluntary foster care and youth empowerment and resilience. The “Walk through Life” will feature stations on education, employment, finances, housing, identification and transportation. On Thursday afternoon, “Walk through Life” will provide an opportunity for youth to put into practice many of the life skills they acquired during the conference.

Attendees also will have an opportunity to tour the Ferris campus.

Conference sponsors include Dow Chemical, Fostering Success in Michigan, Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Human Services — Youth in Transition, the Michigan Federation for Children and Families, and Pepsi.

Janette Ward, the Ferris Youth Initiative Coordinator of Independent Living, represents the university on the MTC Planning Committee.