Winter 2021
Dear Readers:

In this issue, we offer stories of challenges faced and met to help inspire readers for the tough winter ahead.

The whole world is suffering, but the coming months will be especially hard for teens in foster care. A third semester of remote or blended learning; being trapped inside with people who don’t necessarily feel like family; separation from friends at a time in life when youth most need their peers. And outside, a country enduring upheaval and backlash as infection numbers rise.
As always, Represent writers model tenacity through tough circumstances. After years of “representing” foster youth in a way that felt like it was for show, Gabrielle Rodriguez joined a board where she has real power. Chantel Jackson pushed down symptoms, including hearing voices, for years before she found the courage to tell a doctor the truth. Her diagnosis allowed her to get the right medication and better understand herself.

Several writers negotiated painful relationship changes: Ericka Francois lost her best friend and part of herself. Joanna Maestre was retraumatized by a previous abortion, and A.J. was a victim of a relentless revenge porn attack by someone she’d never even met.   

These and the writers of the other stories below combined brave self-examination with strength and fortitude. They faced their problems, and they pushed through. We hope their stories help you do the same in the months ahead.  

In response to the pandemic, Represent stories are now published entirely digitally; Spring 2020 was the last issue we printed. Our quarterly issues will appear in newsletter form, along with individual stories we will send you in between issues. Our websites will undergo a redesign this spring; stay tuned for a fresh new look. 

Virginia Vitzthum, Editor
Represent magazine
Foster Youth Deserve a Seat at the Table
Outsiders make most of the decisions about foster youths’ lives. It’s time for better representation.
I'm Learning to Live With Schizophrenia
I’ve suffered abuse, bad foster homes, self-harm, and violent outbursts; thanks to therapy and medication, I’m feeling better and planning to re-enroll in college.
After a Soulmate Friendship Ends
When my best friend drifted away, I had to learn to support and believe in myself.
Betrayed and Exposed
I sent naked pictures and videos to someone I fell for online, and I’m still suffering.
I'm Still Grieving My Abortion Two Years Later
Even if it was the right choice, I still want to talk about all my feelings.
Taking Care of My Sexual and Emotional Health
I learned the hard way to have safer sex and to walk away from mean guys.
Breaking Ties With My Mom
I kept giving her chances, but she wouldn’t let me become myself
To Escape My Life, I Got Addicted
But nobody else was going to help me, so I got myself clean—and into college
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The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens' struggles. Represent is published by Youth Communication, a nonprofit organization.

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