Lake Worth, FL – The Boca Raton-based nonprofit, the American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY), celebrated their high school seniors’ graduation at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth on Thursday. Graduating from public schools all around Palm Beach County, the students packed into the College Conference Center alongside their families for an evening of merriment, awards, dinner, and camaraderie.
This celebration marked a turning point for many, especially those who had spent up to seven years in the Caregiving Youth Project. The AACY is a resource that uplifts middle and high school caregivers. They have the responsibility of caring for chronically ill, injured, disabled, and/or elderly relatives; all the while balancing their education, and often work, as well.
AACY Family Specialists are assigned to specific schools to educate and provide their youth with the tools they need to manage life and its stresses as well as keep up with their school assignments. “As caregivers, we oftentimes struggle to know who we are or identify who we are apart from our caregiving role. We become so used to putting our sick loved ones first that we forget about ourselves,” says Joyce Adhemar, now a young adult and former AACY participant.
It’s an often-overlooked population, but the AACY aims to shine a light on students’ potential. Many of the students have big plans, and AACY emphasizes the importance of aiming high. More than a high school graduation, this event symbolized a new chapter in their Caregiving Youth’s journey. The prospect of balancing caregiving responsibilities with a college career is demanding, but far from impossible. Indeed, the potential for academic excellence is just around the corner, exemplified by Delaney Dalton, 18 who has participated in AACY’s Caregiving Youth Project for seven years, since sixth grade. Delaney was the recipient of the first American Association of Caregiving Youth Scholarship awarded through the George Snow Scholarship Fund on Saturday, June 11. The George Snow Scholarship Fund celebrated its 40th anniversary of advocating for deserving scholars in the Palm Beach and Broward counties.
About American Association of Caregiving Youth:
What is now AACY, began in 1998 as Boca Raton Interfaith in Action with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to provide volunteer support services to homebound persons and caregiving families. After transitioning adult services to another nonprofit, effective January 1, 2010, the name officially changed to the American Association of Caregiving Youth® (AACY) which continues as a Florida based 501(c) (3) non-profit corporation.
AACY is the only nonprofit in the nation dedicated to identifying and supporting caregiving youth with direct services to more than 500 students in Palm Beach County. It also includes the Caregiving Youth Institute, affiliates, and national partnerships as its reach extends beyond South FL. Needed next is government recognition of these children who are contributing healthcare to their family members of all ages and types of health conditions.