At-risk youth: the elephant roaming downtown

Everywhere I go these days, someone wants to talk about downtown Olympia. In the time I’ve lived here, I’ve never seen quite so much energy around this topic. I hope we get the courage to address one of the issues that no one talks about: at-risk youth.

A lot of the downtown conversation focuses on solving the homeless problem. The good news is that we mostly know how to do that, and with enough resources we can do it fairly quickly. But other complaints, such as tagging, vandalism and petty theft is is not about homelessness. The homeless don’t buy spray paint or break windows.

Any group of people committing those crimes is likely to include current and former foster kids.

Six years ago, I decided to become a parent. And after working and volunteering with at-risk youth in downtown Olympia for most of my life, I chose to become a foster parent. The only trouble with that is that once you raise a foster kid from the point of total vulnerability and desperation to promise for a future, you start to see just how little is being done for other kids like her.

I walk through downtown Olympia most days and I see kids huddled up in groups and I see so much wasted opportunity.


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