INDIANAPOLIS — Several teens aged out of the local foster care system as they accomplished a huge life milestone of graduating high school despite the challenges placed in front of them.
Seventeen Central Indiana high school seniors in foster care celebrated their graduation with a special open at the Indianapolis Colts Pavilion on Tuesday. This is all made possible through a program called 'Project Open House,' according to the Indiana Department of Child Services. The attendees had to apply to participate in the program that was jointly hosted by the Department of Child Services, Cargo Services Inc., and the Indianapolis Colts.
"This event means a lot to me," Janiah Rendell, a graduating senior, said. "When kids are put into the foster care system they think 'no one cares about me,' but when someone puts together an event like this, you see that people really do support you and people care about you."
Every one of the 17 graduates was able to personalize their experience by inviting up to 25 guests, which included family, friends, neighbors, teachers, and coaches. They also planned their menus and received graduation cakes, cards, and gifts.
"These kids are an absolute inspiration considering what they've had to overcome in their short lives," Chris Ballard, the Colts General Manager, said. "Facing adversity, they've produced the hard work and commitment needed to earn their diplomas which is a significant accomplishment. They are going to move forward and achieve extraordinary things in life and they have all the support. We are very proud of them."
Most of the graduates plan to continue their education this fall by attending college.
At least ten other graduation celebrations honoring foster teens who have graduated will take place by the end of the summer in Indiana.
"Graduating high school is an important milestone in life. This accomplishment is even greater for many of our graduates who have overcome difficult life challenges," Terry Stigdon, DCS Director, said. "I was honored to be at their graduation party, celebrating their momentous success, and I can't wait to see what they do in their futures."