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We made a Toast to our Future Together!


We made a Toast to our Future Together! The final C-3 Meeting on March 5 was exciting and satisfying. 63 older adults, artists, MAH staff and advocates joined together to celebrate and complete our work together. Stacey reviewed and renewed our vision of the whole process from last August through next September. Ashley asked for help getting the word out. She will be providing a recipe page of suggestions  about how to to invite friends and families to enjoy the exhibition

Jeff shared an overview of related events coming this Spring and Summer.  Then he asked everyone to join him in a workshop. The focus was to give him advice for the upcoming programs. C3 members enjoyed tasty snacks and a sneak preview of the artwork that they had helped create. This is the artwork that will be on display during the exhibit.  Artists Ry, Cid, Wes, Gina and the Pajaro Valley Quilting Association all shared C3 work. Some seniors dropped off their personal paintings for the exhibition. Everyone got a chance to take an old-school Polaroid photo that will be include in the wall of C3 participants. If you didn’t get to take your picture taken then, please pose for the Polaroid photographer at the C3 members special opening on April 4, from 4-7pm.

After the workshops, munching and milling about the art, we joined in a giant final circle. Four of our guests sang a beautiful ballad in Spanish about.  Then we all raised our Champagne glasses for a toast…but wait…the glasses were all empty. Why? Because that is what the exhibition is about. Noticing the empty glass of another person, and taking the time to fill it with bubbly, sweet connection. So that’s what we did: we filled each other’s glasses with organic, locally bottled sparkling apple cider. Jeff recollected that this day was a lot like a rocket mission launch. Do you remember the Apollo missions? We all celebrated our C3 Mission: to replace isolation in our county. With party poppers in hand we all said the most important words of any lift off: 10…9…8… Well you can see the result in the photos above. Cake was eaten, smiles and hugs were exchanged.

We’ll all come together with our friends and families at the big C3 and MAH members’ opening on April 4 from 4-7pm. Register here if you are going to bring a friend or family member!

C3 Meeting 5 – So Much Light on a Cold & Cloudy Day

C3 Meeting 5 – So Much Light on a Cold & Cloudy Day

Written by: Jeff Caplan, Community Dialogue Catalyst

February 12 was a cold and cloudy day, yet the MAH was full of light from the art and activity of the 57 seniors, advocates, artist and staff. We all joined over coffee and cookies to take the next step to end senior isolation in Santa Cruz County. On behalf of the newly registered members of C3 we reviewed of our process and goals for the exhibition.

After Stacey presented the plan for the morning, Cid showed a short video of local seniors connected and in isolation.  Then she invited all seniors to take part in the recording of a short video of movement and portraits. Then the workshops began! Gina displayed the photos taken by seniors and asked advice on how to arrange them. Ariel lead a workshop using watercolor and collage to create isolation art.  C3 members could finish these collages and submit to the exhibition.

Whitney asked seniors in Spanish and English for quotes about how their connection with the  exhibition building process has changed their connections in the community. The Pajaro Valley Quilting Association passed out scissors and cloth for people to cut into materials for crafting a quilt during the exhibition. Jeff led a workshop to distill and then expand ideas of related events for the exhibition.


After the workshops Rogelio sang a beautiful song to the group in Spanish, and Pedro led an impromptu dance party. We closed out with a moment of gratitude and silence to honor all of the seniors, both living and passed on, who have worked to make our county a better place through their dynamic lives and spirits.

We are excited to have you join us for our next and final meeting of C3 on March 5. The exhibit , We’re Still Here opens one month later on First Friday April 5. There will be a special celebration opening for C3 members and MAH members on April 4.

C3 Meeting 4: We’re heading into the Home Stretch for “We’re Still Here”

C3 Meeting 4: We’re Heading into the Home Stretch for “We’re Still Here”

Written by: Jeff Caplan, Community Dialogue Catalyst

In keeping with our goals to end isolation, everyone shared some personal history and pride in their life achievements with two new partners. Next, we celebrated how far we have come in this six month tapestry of weaving seniors, artists and advocates. Stacey highlighted our process for developing the exhibitions, actions and
events of “We’re Still Here”

Next, we self sorted into action groups working with the different artists.

Ruth and Helen from the Pajaro Valley Quilting Association helped seniors make fabric, ink and image quilt squares. These share our visions of a future Santa Cruz beyond isolation. The squares will join evolving fabric inspirations made by visitors to the Museum during the six months of exhibition.

Cid’s group motivated the entire audience with a mini-performance of dance, evoking the issues that seniors experience as our bodies age. These dance vignettes will play at the opening of the Exhibition on April 5. Visitors will also enjoy them through live and on video performances throughout the six months.

Jeff hosted a “Lluvia de Ideas” (Rain-storm of ideas) about different events that we can host both at the MAH and at community locations. These ideas aimed at three target actions with are foremost in the MAH’s theory of building a stronger community:

  • Bridging Events that bring diverse communities together. For example, an audience participation and performance event inviting High School Seniors and Senior Citizens to exchange wisdom across their different ages and experiences.
  • Bonding Events which strengthen connections among people from similar communities. For example, a senior mixer event.
  • Empowering Events which give skills and opportunities to people in the community. For example, a workshop on Balance and Falling Safely (so that one is less likely to break a bone)

Ry presented the Senior Game of Life project and got feedback about specific stations that visitors would experience.  Gina shared self taken photos from seniors expressing isolation in their lives. People weighed in on which were most moving.

Our next meeting is coming up soon on February 12. Only two more meetings before all of our hard work and passion sparkles before the public eye. Please mark your calendar with the First Friday opening of “We’re Still Here” on April 5. If you are a MAH member, or want to join before then, you are invited to the extra members opening on April 4, complete with food & drinks, dance and music, and crafty opportunities.
If you’ve ever thought about becoming a member, this might be the right time to do it!


C3 November 20 Meeting: We’re Still Here!

Summary of C3: Meeting 3, Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Written by: Jeff Caplan, Community Dialogue Catalyst

Gratitude to all of the 63 seniors, advocates, artists and program staff who gathered together just before Thanksgiving to plan artistic pathways to a Santa Cruz county beyond senior isolation.

Blog Overview:

  •    Seniors gave guidance to the artists as we worked on the big exhibit
  •    Advocates began to build the invitations for visitors to take action
  •    All seniors were invited to prepare and share personal artwork about isolation in the show in April. This artwork will balance all of the other solutions to senior isolation that the show will represent. More details below.

Stacey began with an overview of our steps so far: generating our goals for the exhibit, choosing artists to help us express our vision of isolation and a community full of connection. Next we voted on the exhibition title, “We’re Still Here: Stories of Seniors and Social Isolation” won the popular vote and the electoral college!

Each of the artists introduced their work goals for this session before we broke into workshops at six stations:

    • Station #1 Gina: Photo Stories: Discussing the isolation issues that will be illustrated by interested seniors/photographers
    • Station #2 Ariel: Future of SC: Drawing quilt squares of what a world without loneliness would look like.
    • Station #3 Wes: Audio Stories: Generating questions and stories about our lives, asking who wants to be recorded?
    • Station #4 Jeff: Action Cards: Brainstorming direct actions visitors can take in our organizations to end senior social isolation.
    • Station #5 Cid: Choreographing Empathy: Brainstorming on the scenes and participation possibilities
    • Station #6 Ry: Game of Life: Discussing the life experience triggered our realization that we are seniors.

After two rounds of workshops, C3 members gathered for some final notes and a good will send off for all involved.

If you have any questions, or want to participate in either of the documentation projects, please contact the artists directly.

  • Wes Modes,
  • Gina Orlando,

We also made a call for all county seniors to submit art that will be included in the show.  These invitations are available in English here. Also available in Spanish here. The invitation is very broad including both 2D and 3D art of different sizes.

Work will be be accepted based on three criteria:

  1. Is the artist a Santa Cruz County Senior
  2. Does it fit the size requirements (see details)
  3. Does it illustrate loneliness or isolation as represented by the artist.

See more details here. In order to plan the layout, we need to know how many pieces of art we are including; so an application and a picture need to be submitted by February 14.   The artwork itself does not need to be finished and submitted until March 29.

There is no December C3 meeting, so the next meeting of C3 is Tuesday, January 22, 2019. See you there! If you have questions or comments, or need a ride please contact


Summary of C3: Meeting 2, Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Written by: Jeff Caplan, Community Dialogue Catalyst

At Tuesday morning’s meeting Nina Simon enthusiastically began with an overview our last meeting. The recap introduced the five big ideas that C3 members felt the projects should focus on. You can view the slides here.  Nina introduced also introduced the artists/MAH Staff who will facilitate seniors expressing these ideas:

  1. Visitors will understand the diverse causes and impacts of loneliness on seniors.
  •   Gina Orlando will coordinate a photography project by seniors and of seniors that illustrates the causes and impacts of loneliness.
  1. Visitors will build empathy by experiencing what loneliness and isolation feels like for seniors.
  •   All Senior are invited to submit artwork expressing loneliness for inclusion in the exhibition.
  •   Cid Pearlman will facilitate 3D scenes/sets that represent senior isolation and disconnection, further activated by performance and videos with dancers and seniors.
  •   Ry Faraola will facilitate Life size game of senior life for visitors to directly experience challenges and triumphs of being a senior and experiencing loneliness
  1. Visitors will honor and learn from the wisdom of culturally-diverse seniors.
  •      MAH staff facilitated a brainstorm on the idea of a Wisdom exchange for visitors and seniors. Possible formats: Lucy’s Advice Booth/Wisdom Hotline/ Correspondence/Snail Mail
  1. Visitors will build a collective vision of a connected, inclusive, inter-generational future in Santa Cruz County.

MAH Staff will coordinate warm inviting scenes to inspire shared visioning.

  •   MAH staff facilitated brainstorming participatory activities for visitors to create this vision

o   Carmen Lomas Garza Paintings of intergenerational families living together

o   Videos from Seniors thriving around the world

  1. Visitors will take action beyond the exhibition to end senior social isolation.
  •   MAH staff received ideas about Action cards for visitors to take direct action through our advocates and their programs to end senior social isolation. We will brainstorm this in November.

The remainder of the meeting consisted of the C3 members brainstorming on how to visually represent these big ideas for 5 of these projects. You can view the notes here.

We heard a lot of great ideas at this meeting. MAH staff will be meeting with artists to hone in their project idea based on C3’s suggestions. By our November C3 meeting we’ll have a plan to share with you based off of your suggestions. That next meeting is from 10am-12pm on November 20, 2018. If you have questions or comments, or need a ride please contact

C3 Kick off Meeting Sept 9th 2018

Written by Jeff Caplan and Stacey Marie Garcia

What has 88 smiles, 38 tears, 540 great ideas and a building full of hope and inspiration?

The first C3 meeting of the committee to replace senior isolation with connection in Santa Cruz County. On Sunday September 9 a group on seniors, artists and advocates engaged in brainstorming, sharing stories and documenting their experiences, feelings and wisdom. It was an energizing Sunday at the MAH.

To summarize that five hour, active village gathering, one senior said: “I feel impressed with all the synthesis of ideas and offers to lend a helping hand. The food was good too.”

Here are some of the questions we discussed and responses from seniors:

  1. Share a time that you felt loneliness because of being a senior.
    “Isolation comes from big and little changes in life: My divorce.”
    “The death of my dog.”
    “Losing my home. Being placed in a Senior home. “
  2. What does feeling isolated or lonely feel like?
    “Isolation feels like being invisible.”
    “Like a gift box that is empty.”
    “Envy of others connecting.”
  3. What would a world without loneliness look like or feel like to you?
    “Warm, happy, secure, connected”
    “Senior communities as ‘living libraries'”
    “A world with Driverless Cars?”
    See the full list and a word cloud of responses from C3 participants here.

After lunch, we shifted focus to developing the Big Ideas for this exhibition. Big Ideas establish a shared vision for our exhibition together.  C3 participants discussed what they’d like visitors to understand, feel, experience, or act on in this exhibition. Together, we narrowed it down to 6 Big Ideas and brainstormed how to activate these ideas in an exhibition. You can see C3 participants responses hereMAH staff then edited and combined ideas based on the brainstorm feedback to these final 5.

Here are our final 5 Big Ideas for this exhibition:

  1. Visitors will understand the diverse causes and impacts of loneliness on seniors.
  2. Visitors will build empathy by experiencing what loneliness and isolation feels like for seniors.   
  3. Visitors will honor and learn from the wisdom of culturally-diverse seniors.
  4. Visitors will build a collective vision of a connected, inclusive, inter-generational future in Santa Cruz County.  
  5. Visitors will take action beyond the exhibition to end senior social isolation.

These goals will guide this project: all the artworks, events and actions we will create together. We closed out the day with a moment of gratitude for our lovely day together, getting to know one another, and kicking off a new movement to end senior social isolation in Santa Cruz County.


Interwoven Voices: Conversations on Change

The following blog post was written by C3 2017 artist, Melody Overstreet. She summarizes her experience with the process of developing her artwork, Interwoven Voices alongside current and former foster youth during our C3 meetings.

One question that I have sat with throughout this exhibition, and that I continue to carry with me is, how do we inspire a shift from care and good intention to a place of deliberate action? What do we do in the face of a challenge that is so massive in scale? One approach is to take actionable steps, one at a time.

As an artist and educator, I have learned a lot from the Creative Community Committee meetings, the art-making process, and the presentations by youth and youth advocates. Throughout this experience, youth identified and directed the elements most essential to communicate through this exhibition. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to hold space and listen. There are basic physical needs to survival and well being. In my conversations with youth, the importance of psychological perspectives surfaced. It is paramount that we support the physical well-being of youth, while also meeting emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs through the ways in which we approach our relations, and hold space for their unfolding as whole human beings.

During some of our C3 meetings, several youth inquired about weaving. Creating a collaborative weaving made itself steadily more evident as a fitting medium and process to amplify the self-identified needs of transition-aged youth. This collection of interwoven voices highlights youth-identified needs and perspectives, offering a list articulated and hand-written by youth that provides opportunities for meaningful action.

Weaving lends itself as a powerful metaphorical act. I think about individuals as part of a larger society— like single threads woven as part of a larger tapestry. I see that as people we have more in common than apart, and that our various lives inevitably intersect. I am inspired in a life-long call to action to meet the needs of youth, to support their individual and collective resiliency, for a society that is rooted in an ethos of care and responsibility for one another. I see clearly that we cannot have a healthy society unless we care for all children. When a vision is shared, the actions of individuals accumulate and have the collective power to shift the tides.

What is our responsibility to future generations? How can we meet the needs of our current generation, and work to change ourselves and the system to deeply address the personal and cultural shifts necessary to provide for future generations?

This work communicates about the “little things” that we can do to support youth aging out of the foster care system. The idea to focus on the “little things” was inspired by MAH intern Karen’s personal insight. Karen shared the idea that as a youth, when experiencing hardships, that the “little things” made a huge difference in her daily life— this included when someone baked her a cake for her birthday, which is a reminder of the soft power of thoughtful gestures.

Alongside the installation, Interwoven Voices, is an installation of Take Action cards. These take-away action cards include the “little things” articulated by youth and youth advocates that have the power to make a meaningful difference in a youth’s current transition and life. The MAH has made these suggestions accessible by printing them on a corresponding card with details of how to achieve that specific action. We are being called to action in a number of ways— through the “little things” first and foremost to support youth in transition, as this is a current and pressing need. We also need to take a deep critical look at the root causes of disruption in family life.

Certainly, these youth carry much wisdom, perspective, and insight, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to hear their ideas and work alongside them. Many youth are demonstrating courage and thoughtful leadership by using their voices to advocate for themselves and for future generations.

In conversation with community member Devin Gonzales, I had an opportunity to broadly discuss the systemic issues and challenges that children and some parents face, challenges that can disrupt family life, and ongoing issues of oppression that variably impact lives. It is not surprising that youth of color are disproportionately represented in the foster care system, as this is an extension of racism. While we take much needed action on the “little things,” it is equally essential that we dismantle the complex and interworking systems of oppression.

Collaborating with Youth and Youth Advocates, partaking in C3, learning from the thoughtful Foster Youth Museum, and working alongside the Museum of Art & History has been a profound opportunity for me, for which I am humbled. This work is ongoing, and I am grateful that the space is being held to bring focused attention and growing awareness to the experiences of youth, as this is one way to heal our current and future generations.

I have been reflecting a lot on a poem by Lu Hsun, that reminds me that Hope requires that we move our feet:

“Hope cannot be said to exist, nor can it be said not to exist. Rather, it is like a dirt road across the Earth. For originally, there were no dirt roads. When many people walk one way, a path is formed.”

Pop Up Museum with Cabrillo Guardian Scholars

On September 12-13th, C3 Partners, Cabrillo Guardian Scholars hosted a Pop Up Museum to highlight their students’ achievements. Below is a summary of what it was about, how it went, and what people shared. View more photos and read the original post here.

What was it about?

At this year’s Student services showcase event The Guardian Scholars program was excited to collaborate with the MAH to host an “Achievements Unlocked” pop up. The Guardian Scholar Program supports current and former foster youth, we wanted a way to engage a larger student population at the welcome week event and thought a pop up would be the perfect thing.

*We hosted two consecutive Pop Up Museums. Our first took place on Tuesday, September 12th at our Aptos campus, while our second took place the next day on Wednesday, September 13th at our Watsonville Campus. Below is a summary of both Pop Up Museums.

About Our Theme: Achievements Unlocked

You’ve reached a new adulting level. What was your “ah-a!” moment that led you to Cabrillo? Where do you want to go from here? We all have our own education path, but how did we get there? What were your achievements along the way? It starts with a source of inspiration and a mix of passion, motivation and curiosity. Whether students in school, or as life-long learners, we all have that lil’ something that we are proud of. What is it for you? Share an object and tell your story.


How did it go?

Since this occurred during a school day on campus, instead of objects students shared stories, statements, and art produced right at the pop up! The pop up allowed for students to reflect back on something they were proud of. And many times surprisingly enough someone would say, well I haven’t achieved anything yet….but after some conversation they’d say “I was the first in my family to go to college”, “This is my last semester at Cabrillo before transferring”, or “I’m in School, but it wasn’t originally part of my plan”. We saw all of these as huge achievements, and the thing is once shared, it got people talking about how an achievement resonated with them.

What was most surprising was how many times people would start by saying I’m not…, or I haven’t… but after taking time to reflect, they truly realized what they had achieved. It was a great opportunity to see growth mindset at work, and how simple conversation can make a huge different to how a person see’s themselves.

We appreciate everyone sharing their achievements, and the rich conversation’s that came from the event!


Cabrillo Guardian Scholars Program

Lost Childhoods: Voices Santa Cruz County Foster Youth and the Foster Youth Museum

Lost Childhoods gets a shoutout from California Youth Connection!

 In August, Foster Youth Museum and California Youth Connection (CYC) released a heartfelt e-blast that highlighted the Lost Childhoods exhibit. CYC is a youth led organization that develops leaders who empower each other and their communities to transform the foster care system through legislative, policy, and practice change. Click here to read the message in a separate browser.

Foster Youth Museum Makes Waves in Santa Cruz 

Wow! Over 4,500 community members visited the Lost Childhoods exhibit on opening night at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH) last month. Since then, more than 6,000 people have visited the nation’s largest collection of art, artifacts, and video portraits about youth experiences in foster care. 

The exhibition is a culmination of a six-month collaborative process between the Foster Youth Museum and more than 100 current and former foster youth, artists, and advocates. Lost Childhoods features personal belongings of foster youth, photography by Ray Bussolari, and four art installations created by foster youth in collaboration with artistsBridget Henry, Melody Overstreet, Elliott Taylor, and Nada Miljkovic.

CYC staff and members at opening night

“Foster youth museum was conceived of by former foster youth from California,” explains Jamie Lee Evans, director of Foster Youth Museum. 

“It was developed while writing curriculum on how to train social work supervisors on how to do more successful social work with teenagers. What we kept hearing from the young people who had written the curriculum was, ‘I have this object that I can bring in and it will help tell the story.’ And from hearing these stories over and over again, I thought, we should make a collection,” she said. 

Empowering youth to share their stories and determine the look and feel of the exhibit were key components of the project since its inception. 

 “I originally joined because I had seen many cases of organizations attempting to represent and support foster youth…and again and again I saw youth being sidelined, being spoken over, being patronized, and tokenized and left out of the very projects meant for them,” said Jess Prudent, a recent graduate of UCSC and Smith Renaissance Society Community Fellow. 

“As a proud and protective ‘Smithy’ I was ready to stop that before it even started…I am happy and relieved that I never felt the need to,” she said. “From day one foster youth were brought into the forefront of every idea, every art piece, and the setup of it.” 

Rooted in youth experience, the exhibit is also about taking action. 

 “We want to provide a very clear way to take action,” said MAH Director of Engagement, Stacey Garcia, to the Santa Cruz Sentinel. “It’s an amazing thing for someone to volunteer to take a big step like becoming a foster parent. But not everyone can take that kind of big step. There are a lot of little things that make a huge difference in the life of a foster youth. Making a birthday cake for a foster youth, donating some school supplies. The smaller things really add up to make a big impact. We try to make it as easy as possible for people to be active.” 

Jamie Lee Evans w/ Asm Mike StoneAssemblymember Mark Stone agrees. The author of AB 403, a bill that dramatically changed the foster care system in California, said, “through art, we can communicate much more effectively about what it is we’re trying to do and what it is we need to do.”  

“We can not do system change without [youth] voice,” Stone explains. “I look at the exhibit–that’s your voice. That is one of the most incredible ways to explain to decision makers what you’ve gone through. And I challenge anyone who’s had contact with this system to go look in the eyes of those pictures and go look at the words and not be moved.” 

 Thanks to a generous grant from National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council, the exhibit will run from July 7 – December 31, 2017. To learn more visit



Press for the Exhibit: 

MAH steps into social activism with new exhibit on young people of foster care 

Santa Cruz Sentinel 

Foster Youth Exhibit Aims for Action 

Santa Cruz Waves 

Take action links:

Pop Up Museum with Smith Renaissance Society, California Youth Connection and the Foster Youth Museum

Back when C3 was still in the planning stages for the Lost Childhoods exhibition, our partners at Smith Renaissance Society were buzzing with action. They decided to host their own Pop Up Museum at the Annual Chancellor’s Reception at UC Santa Cruz to celebrate the academic feats of former Smith Renaissance Collegiate Fellows. Continue reading to see how it went.

*This post is also cross published on the Santa Cruz MAH’s Pop Up Museum blog, here.

Summary of Smith Renaissance Society, CYC and FYM’s Pop Up Museum
Written By: Smith Renaissance Society Collegiate Fellow, Lexie Tapke

Who: Smith Renaissance Society, California Youth Connection, and the Foster Youth Museum
When: April 30th, 2017
Where: Smith Renaissance Society’s Annual Chancellor’s Reception (De Anza Community Center, Santa Cruz, CA)
Organized by: Shawn Cervantes, President of Smith Society in collaboration with California Youth Connection and Foster Youth Museum

What it was all about:
At this year’s Chancellor’s Reception, an annual event hosted by the Smith Renaissance Society, a successful year was celebrated for this community. Honors were given to students, faculty, and volunteers of Smith that have either accomplished academic feats or have made Smith a more inclusive and worthy cross-generational community. Unique to this celebration, a Pop-Up exhibition was featured, consisting of a small scale foster youth exhibit and was hosted in partnership with California Youth Connection and the Foster Youth Museum.

How did it go?
The Pop-Up included personal artifacts brought in by several Smith Renaissance Society Collegiate Fellows, all former foster youth; these artifacts presented from their foster years represented hope or empowerment. Through these artifacts, the mini-exhibition provided a backdrop for donors to understand the importance of a foster child’s experience and how these memories live on through objects, artwork and other artifacts.

Guests including Chancellor George Blumenthal browsed the Pop-up museum again and again. One object stood out to the crowd and was later presented in-between awards. Mercedes Marson, a Smith alumna, brought her “Book of Life,” which was filled with photographs and mementos that kept her smiling through the system, offering her hope for a better future. Now, Mercedes is taking the same aspects of positivity and is currently training social workers to use these positivity methods with children in the foster system. She is also headed to Columbia University this fall where she will earn her Master of Social Work with a minor in Public Policy.

The Pop-Up museum, in conjunction with the Chancellor’s Reception, provided an opportunity for these former foster youths to share an intimate part of their foster experience with a larger population in a non-threatening way and draws awareness to the foster youth experience. Shawn Cervantes, President of the Smith Renaissance Society, says, “The exhibition provides a tangible way to help understand them. You can see, feel, and experience these stories from the youth themselves.”

Not only do non-foster youth individuals get a chance to step into the shoes of former foster youth, but this exhibition also breaks down stereotypical perceptions of what former foster youth and their experiences look like. “There is no cookie cutter way in which foster youth experience the system,” says Shawn. These artifacts physically show how each former foster youth developed into the individuals they are today and how these artifacts—pictures, artwork, toys and even sticky notes—helped them through the foster care system.