My story starts two and a half years ago. During my first year teaching high school, a new sophomore student and foster youth, Brady, walked into my World History class. She looked like she had been through too much, had a chip on her shoulder and the saddest eyes. A few days later, she was placed on my caseload and would be one of my students that I supported throughout high school. Fast forward to this year, she's a senior, she calls me mom, and she's been through the ringer. Brady has been in multiple group homes, foster homes and eventually became a displaced adult foster youth. She's now homeless and living in an apartment with six other homeless woman through a shelter program. Unfortunately, this situation is not a healthy environment. She stopped attending school regularly and has stomach aches regularly from the stress. While on winter break, I was in a small shop with a friend not intending to purchase anything, but as my friend was paying for her over-priced fancy soaps she made a comment about the key jewelry in the store. We were told the story behind The Giving Keys, and I was instantly sucked in by the concept. I saw the word Brave on a key and said, "This is Brady's bracelet."
When we came back from winter break, Brady didn't show up the first week back. I contacted her social worker, and we set up a meeting with Brady. Brady came in my class and told me how bad everything was in her shelter program. We hugged, and I gave her the bracelet; I explained the concept and story behind it. I told her I can't promise things will be easier, but I know she will need to be brave. One day when she gets through all of this, she will have this bracelet, this word, this Giving Key to pass on to someone else who needs it more than she does because she will have survived this. She is the bravest girl I know! I love the idea of paying-it-forward and the hope that these keys symbolize.