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African American Advisory Council Newsletter (Fall ... - State of Illinois

African American Advisory Council Newsletter (Fall ... - State of Illinois

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African American Advisory Council - Fall 2008 AAAC Conference Workshops First Impressions of AAAC Conference are ‘Excellent’ By Rochelle Crump, Chief Office of African-American Services My mother taught me years ago that the first impression that someone has of you will probably be a lasting one. So I am applying that saying to my first participation at the African-American Advisory Council’s Conference on March 20 – 21, 2008 at the Pheasant Run Resort. The Opening Plenary Session with keynote speaker Darryl L. Armstrong, Director of the new Jersey Department of Children and Family Services Division of Prevention and Community Partnership was outstanding. Mr. Armstrong shared his personal story and how he soared from those experiences. His passion The Friday morning session with Antwan Turpeau, Michael Simelton and Eddie Dordies was truly inspirational. for children in care was genuine and inspiring. The overall presentation of the speaker was (E) xcellent. I attended the Aftercare planning Workshop with Angela Foster and Johnny Banks, two dynamic presenters. It is clear that our youths are in good hands when they are under the guidance of these two. They make it plain that youths can succeed if given the right tools and coach. I give this workshop an (E) xcellent. The evening Cultural Reception was more than just a reception with good food. It 4 was a full concert with Teresa Griffin who Eddie Dordies (from left), poured out her soul and talents to those in attendance. It was simply fantastic as we went Michael Simelton gave a Antwan Turpeau and down memory lane. (Somehow I missed the riveting and encouraging discussion at a Friday Memo on the Karaoke after party.) The Reception was (E) xcellent! session. The Friday morning session with Antwan Turpeau, Michael Simelton and Eddie Dordies was truly inspirational. I was moved in an indescribable way with their stories. They were truly focused on how they plan to succeed in life and were confident and articulate in their presentation. All of them were (E) xcellent. I attended the Preparation for Independence Workshop with Michael Simelton, who speaks from experience on what youths need in preparation for independence. I think the outcome of that workshop was plain. “What would you do for your children to prepare them for independence?” He was (E) xcellent. Cobb County, Georgia State Representative Alisha Thomas Morgan the luncheon keynote speaker was very motivational; she shared her success story of becoming a State Representative and the work that she does on Continued on page 14

African American Advisory Council - Fall 2008 AAAC Conference Workshops Breaking the Cycle of Domestic Violence By Gregory Smith DCFS AAAC Member Presenter: Margaret Eubanks, “My Sister’s Keeper” The workshop began with one courageous mother, a domestic violence (DV) survivor sharing her story, her experiences.. She spoke of her journey, and battle against falling into the trappings of domestic violence. In addition, she spoke of DV, as her other addiction, in that, she also used drugs as a means to shelter her from pain, from the pain she experienced as a child witnessing abusive behaviors on a daily basis. Furthermore, she spoke as to how her addiction harmed her children emotionally. She also spoke as to how anyone suffering from addictions has to be ready to receive help, and that no matter how well intended services are as it relates to helping a person become addiction free, the services will not have the desired impact, unless, the person with the addiction is ready for change; in other words, “one has to be sick and tired of being sick and tired”. The Presenters both wanted to emphasize that in most instances, the perpetrator uses some form of leverage to control the victim of DV; oftentimes it’s economic, whereas, the victim feels that they don’t have the financial means to leave their unhealthy situation. However, both presenters encouraged workers to set realistic goals when working with victims of domestic violence, and to help them establish healthy support networks, i.e. treatment and counseling, for them and for their family members, i.e. children that are victims of D). The program, “My Sister’s Keeper” was very helpful in reclaiming one’s self-esteem, said one mother, and a former program graduate. Lastly, both presenters noted that DV doesn’t have to be a life sentence, and that in fact, it’s only one part of life’s journey, and that the individual has the power to change not only the direction of their journey, but also has the power to create a new and a healthier legacy. Many of the workers and the two presenters appeared to agree that the problem of domestic violence is greater than what the statistics tend to indicate... . Attendees’ Reactions/Responses Overall, the workshop attendees appeared to have gained additional insight as it relates to the widespread problems of domestic violence, as it relates to the impact it has on the unintended or unidentified victims. Many of the workers and the two presenters appeared to agree that the problem of domestic violence is greater than what the statistics tend to indicate, in that, domestic violence is probably greatly under reported, in part, due to the fear of being further abused, and another concern is that neither the police nor a court order can realistically protect the victims of domestic violence. There were a number of workers who stated that domestic violence is not only limited to the identified victims, but oftentimes, DV has unaddressed collateral damages suffered by children, and these damages tend to be manifested in a number of acting out behaviors, i.e. joining gangs, fighting, displaying abusive language, and in some instances, children may demonstrate inappropriate sexual behaviors, such behaviors present great challenges for our foster parents and case worker, said one worker. Many of the attendees were visibly affected by the personal stories of survival told by one of the presenters. In addition, there were a number of attendees who suggested that the Department of Children and Family Services make this workshop part of Core Training, or at least have a similar workshop offered to staff throughout the year. 5

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