Teens, young adults share personal stories of growing up in Utah’s foster care system

Oct 24, 2023, 10:33 PM | Updated: Oct 25, 2023, 8:23 am

ST. GEORGE — In the heart of St. George, a couch conversation hosted by the 1999 Collective provided a platform for foster care alumni to share their stories. The 1999 Collective, a nonprofit organization, is dedicated to leveraging the lived experiences of its co-founder and others who have aged out of the foster care system to make a positive impact on the lives of current foster youth.

Natalie Clark, co-founder of the 1999 Collective, took on the role of moderator for the evening. Having personally experienced aging out of foster care, Clark is intimately familiar with the challenges faced by young people in the system. The event, held as part of Foster Youth Voice Month, aimed to break the silence surrounding foster youth experiences.

“Foster youth voices are silenced. Young people do not oftentimes get to be put in the driver’s seat of our own life to really explain what we need,” shared Weaver, a representative of the foster youth community.

The evening unfolded with Clark facilitating a discussion that allowed over 100 attendees to listen to the narratives of success and struggles from adults who grew up in foster care. The overarching theme was clear: it’s crucial to provide foster youth with a platform to express themselves and to be seen as more than just individuals who have experienced foster care.

One panelist, Kaitlin Spark, 22, shared her journey of spending 3 1/2 years in the Utah foster care system. The applause echoed through the venue as she proudly announced her acceptance into the nursing program at Southern Utah University.

“I have an obligation to be on this panel today. Because I have the option to share my story, an opportunity to share my voice and to show that we’re more than just foster youth,” expressed Kaitlin Spark.

Bo, the youngest person in the state of Utah to graduate high school early and become a University of Utah student, showcased another facet of success within the foster care community.

The ultimate goal of the panelists was clear – to build more informed, compassionate, and supportive communities for youth in foster care. By sharing their stories, these individuals aimed to break down stereotypes and foster understanding among the broader community.

As the Couch Conversation came to a close, the audience was left with a profound sense of the strength, resilience, and potential that exists within the foster care community. The 1999 Collective continues to be a driving force in amplifying the voices of those who have experienced foster care, ensuring that their narratives contribute to a more compassionate and supportive society for all.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

Babs the snow leopard at Hogle Zoo. (Hogle Zoo)...

Eliza Pace

Hogle Zoo snow leopard expecting cub in June 2024

Utah's Hogle Zoo made a pregnancy announcement on behalf of their snow leopard, Babs. 

34 minutes ago

Courtney Lynne Townsend was last seen on Nov. 16, 2023. (St. George Police Department)...

Josh Ellis

Human remains found in Kane County believed to be missing St. George woman

Authorities believe human remains that were located in southern Utah are those of a St. George woman who was last seen in November 2023.

34 minutes ago

The DWR is asking any outdoor enthusiasts who come across a fawn or a calf to leave it alone....

Mark Jones

DWR is asking that newborn elk and deer be left alone

As the summer season begins, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is asking anyone heading into the mountains to be mindful of newborn deer and elk.

1 hour ago

Chad Daybell leaning over and whispering to his lawyer, John Prior during his murder trial...

Mary Culbertson

What’s next in the triple murder trial of Chad Daybell as it nears end

As the trial for Chad Daybell nears its end, many questions will be answered soon. The timeline of events to expect will include possibility of the death penalty, jury deliberation, and another trial phase.

3 hours ago

Judge's gavel...

Pat Reavy, KSL.com

UHP trooper charged with sexually abusing woman while off-duty

An off-duty Utah Highway Patrol trooper is now facing criminal charges accusing him of sexually abusing a woman.

4 hours ago

Levi Wright, 3, vanished into a creek and was found a mile downstream in a near drowning. On Friday...

Brittany Tait

Family friend of Levi Wright gives update on boy’s condition, worldwide support

A Utah family continues to pray for Levi Wright, who was swept down a Beaver County creek one week ago and continues to fight for his life.

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Teens, young adults share personal stories of growing up in Utah’s foster care system