Juvenile Justice Forum Day Spotlights Transgender, Foster Youth

Crossroads students examine issues through storytelling, performance art.
Upper School students sat quietly, closed their eyes and thought about everything they cherish most: their loved ones, their friends, their homes, their belongings. Then they were asked to consider how it would feel to lose everything.
The brief exercise was led by Sharonda Wade, a social worker with the county Department of Children and Family Services, as part of a moving Juvenile Justice Forum Day at Crossroads focusing on transgender youth and children in the foster care system.
The third-annual event on March 6 offered Crossroads students the opportunity to examine the issues facing vulnerable populations in the community and to engage directly with artists, activists and experts who shared their personal experiences with overcoming childhood traumas.
“Educating the Upper School on the issues of inequity that surround them is imperative to developing informed, empathetic students,” senior Max Hammond says. “The combination of performance art and impassioned storytelling allowed for human connection between the performers and the audience. … I know that I will never forget this Forum Day.”
Members of the Rhythm Arts Alliance, a community empowerment nonprofit, demonstrated African drumming and dance during an energetic performance. Laverne Delgado-Small and designers from Freedom and Fashion—an organization that empowers youth who have experienced trafficking, homelessness and other injustices—held a fashion show and Q&A session.
The day also included activism booths, information tables and an art display in the Humanities building.
Wade—a former DCFS client—relayed a story about a family whose five abused and neglected children, all under 5 years old, ended up in five different foster homes.
“My heart just broke,” she says. “Usually, when we remove children from a parent’s custody, we have to call approximately a hundred foster homes to actually find one that will take the kid. … How do you grow up? How do you sit in a classroom and do your homework? How do you dream about college when all of this has been happening to you, and you’ve been ripped from everything you know?”