Starting this fall, runaway and homeless youth in Ohio will have a new companion to help them navigate the adult world on their own.
COHHIO’s Youth Housing Initiative is planning to launch Taking Charge, a new web-based tool to help young people figure out how to get help and learn about their legal rights and responsibilities.
Initially, Taking Charge will start out as a sort of online FAQ that runaway and homeless youth can access on their mobile phones. But COHHIO’s Youth Initiative Coordinator Evette Bethel expects the initiative will grow and evolve into a broader, more interactive communications platform as young people put it to test in the real world and provide feedback to COHHIO and to each other about their experiences.
“When young people suddenly find themselves on their own or in an unstable situation, it’s a real challenge to find a locate a safe place to live and figure out how to get food, health care and find a job or continue their education,” said Bethel. “Taking Charge is designed to give Ohio youth the information and confidence they need to tackle the complexities of adulthood.”
Bethel, and Arlene “Sam” Jones, COHHIO’s Youth Initiative Specialist, collaborated with experts in a variety of fields to compile pertinent information about housing, community resources, health and well being, foster care, and LGBT issues. In June, COHHIO convened a Youth Summit, where youth with lived experience came together to vet the resource guide. They provided feedback on the content and style to ensure that Taking Charge is something their peers will really want to use.
“We’ve been very intentional about making sure the language isn’t cumbersome,” said Jones, who has been the project lead. “As a young person on the way to adulthood, having clarity on what you can control empowers advocacy. That’s what this Taking Charge is all about.”
Funding for development of the web-based initiative was provided by the Ohio Attorney General’s Victims of Crimes Act fund. Taking Charge will be accessible by the end of September at: www.takingchargeohio.org