Separated From Her Family, Young Teen Finds a New Support Network

"Miss Kizzy taught me that I can make something of myself,” said Zicalya. “In order to fulfill my dreams, I have to finish school."

At age four, Zicalya was removed from her home by the Department of Children and Families, separated from her mother and her three siblings. She, a younger brother and an older sister went to live with different family members, and her youngest sister was placed in foster care. Zicalya hasn’t seen her baby sister since.

So, it was no surprise that when Zicalya joined the Teen Outreach Program as a seventh-grader at John C. Clark Elementary & Middle School in Hartford, she was shy and reluctant to share during group discussions.

“I didn’t have a lot of friends and wasn’t doing very well in my classes,” said Zicalya.

“She would talk a bit, but I could sense a disconnect between her and her classmates,” said Kizzy Weekes, who runs the Teen Outreach Program at The Village’s Family Resource Center at Clark.

Zicalya formed a bond with Kizzy and confided to Kizzy that she had trouble making friends because she was embarrassed by her family’s history. Kizzy encouraged her to open up to her peers, to ask for help.

As Zicalya shared her story and her fears, she learned that many of her peers had similar issues and concerns. She gained confidence and began to focus more on her schoolwork. She discovered a love of art and set a path for herself toward a career in fashion.

Now a freshman in high school, Zicalya has made some smart, but difficult decisions. She wanted to attend a high school with a strong art program, so she accepted an invitation to enroll in Bolton High School.

Nervous about attending school in a totally new environment with kids she didn’t know, she took the challenge in stride. She joined the track team and even ran for Student Council, overcoming her shyness to make a presentation to her fellow students.

Zicalya still checks in with Kizzy for guidance and to get help with staying focused on her goals.

She believes that education is her ticket to success. Not only for herself, but also for the younger sister she longs to see again.

“Miss Kizzy taught me that I can make something of myself,” said Zicalya. “In order to fulfill my dreams, I have to finish school.”

“I need to be successful because, someday, I want to find my sister.”

With her new found confidence and quiet determination, we have no doubt she will.

About The Village’s Teen Outreach Program:

The Teen Outreach Program, offered through the Family Resource Center at Clark, helps youth develop healthy behaviors, build life skills and discover a sense of purpose. The youth explore their own values, set goals and develop good communication skills. They learn about human development and sexuality and hone their decision-making ability. They are encouraged to be kind and helpful with each other and learn how to build healthy relationships.

The Village offers a variety of child and family support services, like the Teen Outreach Program, in six public schools in Hartford.

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