Let's Talk Podcast - National Runaway Safeline

National Runaway Safeline

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The “Let’s Talk” podcast series was launched in November 2021 as part of National Runaway Prevention Month. “Let’s Talk” is aimed at elevating the voices of young people as they share their stories and highlight the complexities and intersections that are witnessed by the 4.2 million young people experiencing homelessness across the United States each year. This podcast features discussions that may be triggering to our audiences, covering topics that include suicide, intimate partner violence, institutionalization, child sexual abuse material, gun violence, addiction, and various forms of discrimination. Listener discretion is advised!

Season 6

Let's Talk!
Confronting Mental Health Stigma in the Black Community (with Amea Smith & Antonio Davis-Robinson)
Chosen Families & Equitable Programming (with Rheneisha Robertson & Damien Rush)
Internalized Homophobia, Forgiveness and the "Road Home" (with Rex Ogle)
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[This episode features some coarse language, and discussions about suicidal ideation.]

In a special PRIDE episode of “Let’s Talk” we’re joined by novelist and comic writer Rex Ogle. Rex recently released Road Home, the final installment of his memoir trilogy that focuses on his experiences with poverty, abuse and homelessness. 

Rex is open and honest about his struggles with suicidal ideation, how RuPaul’s Drag Race helped him address internalized homophobia, and healing yourself through forgiveness. 

Order a copy of Road Home here: https://wwnorton.com/books/9781324019923 

Follow Rex on Instagram here: @ThirdRex

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In this month’s episode we’re discussing chosen families with Covenant House New Orleans. We’re joined by Rheneisha Robertson, CEO at Covenant House New Orleans, and Damien Rush, youth advocate with experience using Covenant Houses’s programs and services.

Learn more about Covenant House New Orleans by visiting https://www.covenanthousenola.org.

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The Let’s Talk podcast kicks off its 6th season with an episode in honor of Black History Month, featuring insightful conversations with Amea Smith and Antonio Davis-Robinson. Both Amea and Antonio serve as passionate advocates for youth mental health through their roles on the NRS Youth Advisory Board, and through their career choices.

In this episode we discuss the stigma surrounding mental health within the Black community, the emotional toll of code-switching, and the personal journeys of Amea and Antonio.

Season 5

Let's Talk!
Why I Chose To Leave Home (with Jillian Yearns)
Honesty, Trust & Positivity (with Sharday Hamilton)
Invisible Disabilities (with EJ Velez & Rachel Litchman)
Who Can I Turn To? (with Ajax Nguyen)
Welcome to NRPM 2023 (with Susan Frankel & Melanie Hill)
The Role of Parents Seeking Behavioral Health Services for Youth (with Genoris Bridges)
How Today's Youth View Trauma & Dysfunction (with Natalie White)
Protecting, Supporting & Education Youth Who Identify as LGBTQIA2S+ (with Nancy Mullen & Carolyn Wahlskog)
Helping Justice-Involved Youth Reach Their Full Potential (w Margaret Windham)
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Season 5 comes to a close with a conversation about youth who have been involved in the juvenile justice system, and how the right opportunities can help them reach potential they don’t necessarily see themselves. We are joined by the Margaret Windham, Executive Director at Cafe Momentum in Dallas, for a conversation about the incredible impact they’ve had in their community, the importance of community partnerships, and the joy young people experience through their internships and externships.

You can support Cafe Momentum through donations or partnerships by visiting their website, CafeMomentum.org. They also offer volunteer opportunities, which will be available in more locations soon as they plan to expand to 30 locations over the next 10 years. 

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In our penultimate episode for season 5, we are joined by Nancy Mullen and Carolyn Wahlskog from Youth Outlook in Naperville, IL. Nancy and Carolyn share what it’s like to be on the receiving end of violent threats while hosting events with the goal of uplifting LGBTQ+ youth, especially those who identify as Transgender. We also talk about the some safety precautions for parents who wish to openly support their young queer-identifying children. 

Learn more about the Youth Outlook, an organization dedicated to the support of LGBTQ+ youth, by visiting their website — www.youth-outlook.org. Access their resources, including the “Gender Unicorn” here.

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For this week’s episode of the “Let’s Talk” podcast, we talk with Natalie White, a licensed professional counselor with Sally Kate Winters Family Services (SKW). We discuss SKW’s evolution and growth from an emergency shelter to a transitional living program, basic living program, and child advocacy center. We also dig into mental health stigma and how young people are trying to combat this stigma when addressing issues at home.

To learn more about Sally Kate Winters Family Services visit SallyKateWinters.org

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We are excited to welcome Genoris Bridges from Christopher Youth Center to the podcast! NRS was introduced to Genoris during the 2023 National Safe Place Network Conference in Louisville, KY! During an education session Genoris mentioned how it can sometimes be difficult to address issues related to family dynamics when all of the blame and expectations are being placed on the youth. Today, we revisit the topic and discuss the role that parents should play when seeking behavioral health services for their children. 

To learn more about the Christopher Youth Center, visit https://www.facebook.com/christopheryouthcenter/.

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In this special double-episode we are joined by Susan Frankel, Chief Executive Officer at the National Runaway Safeline (NRS), and Melanie Hill, Board Chair of the NRS Board of Directors. We discuss how NRS has grown over the past year, why we’ve invested so much in our Youth Advisory Board, and the value of corporate social responsibility. We also celebrate Melanie’s historic appointment to the Board Chair role as the first person of color.

It’s never too late to get involved with NRPM! Visit 1800RUNAWAY.org/NRPM now to see just how easy it is to show support in your community and online.

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Ajax is a NRS Youth Advisory Board member who experienced abandonment during his early teen years. In this episode Ajax shares his experience with Child Protective Services, seeking help from school counselors, and what led him to joining the NRS Youth Advisory Board. Ajax also shares how the McKinney-Vento act ultimately changed his trajectory and led to him feeling like his life had turned around. 

Learn more about National Runaway Safeline’s Youth Advisory Board at 1800RUNAWAY.org/YAB 

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National Runaway Safeline Youth Advisory Board members EJ Velez & Rachel Litchman return to the Let’s Talk Podcast to discuss invisible disabilities and navigating the healthcare system as a young person experiencing homelessness.

Learn more about National Runaway Safeline’s Youth Advisory Board at 1800RUNAWAY.org/YAB 

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In this episode of Let’s Talk, we hear from Sharday Hamilton, the National Runaway Safeline Youth Fellow and a homeless youth advocate, who was living in her mother’s abandoned home when her neighbors reported her to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services after she reached out to them for help. We discuss her courageous personal experience, the barriers to seeking help, and how The Night Ministry assisted Sharday in setting goals and ensuring she was aware of resources available to protect her family.

Learn more about National Runaway Safeline’s Youth Advisory Board at 1800RUNAWAY.org/YAB 

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For the Season 5 premiere of Let’s Talk we have the fortune of talking to Jillian Yearns, an 18-year-old youth homelessness advocated from Georgia. At a very young age, Jillian experienced abuse and was kicked out of her home on multiple occasions, eventually leading her to make the difficult decision to leave home for good. In this episode, Jillian shares what motivated her decision making, how judgmental adults and stigma prevented her from seeking help, and why forgiveness is her most powerful tool when processing trauma.

Jillian is a member of the National Runaway Safeline Youth Advisory Board. To learn more, visit 1800RUNAWAY.org/YAB.

Season 4

Let's Talk!
A Conversations with David Ambroz (Part 2)
A Conversations with David Ambroz (Part 1)
Human Trafficking Prevention, Resources, and Reporting with #BlueCampaign
The Myths and Misconceptions of Human Trafficking w Polaris
Child Sex Trafficking, Family Abductions and Child Sexual Abuse Material with NCMEC
Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month with love is respect
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Our conversation with 2023 Celebrating the Spirit of Youth Honoree, David Ambroz, continues! 

In part two we discuss the importance of focusing on past successes, rather than past failures. We also talk about how the foster care system has evolved over the past several decades, and why the first word that should come to mind of when thinking about homelessness is “education.”

Click here to learn more about David Ambroz and his memoir, A Place Called Home

Click here to follow @DaveAmbroz on Twitter. 

Click here to follow @hjDavidAmbroz on Instagram.

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Let’s Talk is proud to welcome 2023 Celebrating the Spirit of Youth Honoree David Ambroz! David is a national poverty and child welfare expert/advocate, Emmy nominated, and best-selling author. He was also recognized by President Obama as an American Champion of Change. 

In part one of this conversation, hear David talk about the impact of having honest conversations with young people. David also talks about what inspired him to write his memoir, A Place Called Home, and how adults can help young people deal with the pressure of peer and social issues.

Click here to learn more about David Ambroz and his memoir, A Place Called Home. 3

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Angela Lee, Director at love is respect, returns to Let’s Talk to discuss Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. In this episode, we learn about this year’s theme for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (“Be About It”), online harassment, enthusiastic consent, and unlearning harmful relationships stereotypes perpetuated by Hollywood.

love is respect offers confidential support for teens, young adults, and their loved ones seeking help, resources, or information related to healthy relationships and dating abuse in the US. They’re available by text (“LOVEIS” to 22522), call (866.331.9474), or live chat online.

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#BlueCampaign joins us for the third and final installment of our Human Trafficking series. Karinda L. Washington, Executive Director of Social Impact and Campaigns, talks us through this year’s Human Trafficking Prevention Month events, and shares life-saving resources for business, organizations and individuals looking to make a difference in their communities. 

Blue Campaign is a national public awareness campaign designed to educate the public, law enforcement, and other industry partners to recognize the indicators of human trafficking, and how to appropriately respond to possible cases.

Learn more about If You See Something, Say Something here. Watch the Youth Human Trafficking Scenario animated series here

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For Part 2 of our human trafficking series, we are joined by Tina Bigdeli, Program Manager with National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). In our conversation we discuss sex trafficking recruitment on social media, child sexual abuse material, and what happens when you make a report to a resource like the CyberTipline. 

NCMEC is the nation’s largest and most influential child protection organization.  Learn more at their website MissingKids.org. Learn more about Take It Down here. Learn more about the CyberTipline here.

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In the season 4 premiere episode we are joined by Ashley Smith Thompson, a Case Response Specialist with Polaris. We discuss the realities of trafficking and the myths preventing progress.

Polaris works to reshape the systems that allow for sex and labor trafficking in North America and operates the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline. Learn more on at PolarisProject.org and NationalHumanTraffickingHotline.org.

Season 3

Let's Talk!
RHYTPA and Youth Involvement in Politics with National Network 4 Youth Executive Director Darla Bardine
A Conversation w the NRS Youth Advisory Board
The Positive Youth Development Approach w Midwest Youth Services
A Conversation with 6th Street Center for Youth Program Manager Emily Pereira
#NRPM2022 with NRS CEO Susan Frankel
Bonus Episode: Youth Helping Youth & The Importance of Mental Health Programming in Schools
A Conversation with love is respect
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In this season’s final episode we are joined by the Executive Director of the National Network 4 Youth (NN4Y), Darla Bardine. NN4Y is strongly devoted to empowering young people with lived experiencing by providing education about local and national politics, and creating opportunities for young people to network with congressional leaders and policy experts. They are also leading the charge in the reauthorization of the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Acti

To learn more about the National Network 4 Youth, visit their website https://nn4youth.org/

To learn about the 2023 National Summit and Hill Day, visit https://nn4youth.org/national-summit-hill-day/

To learn more about RHYTPA, visit https://nn4youth.org/take-action-center/rhytpa-take-action/ 

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For this very special episode of Let’s Talk we are happy to welcome guest host Em deCordova, Prevention and Youth Engagement Coordinator at National Runaway Safeline (NRS). Em is joined by Rachel Litchman and Tony Davis-Robinson, NRS Youth Advisory Board Members,  who share their lived experiences, and discuss ways that youth-facing organizations can collaborate with them to make change. 

You can learn more about the Youth Advisory Board by visiting 1800RUNAWAY.org/YAB

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It’s week 3 of NRPM and we’re joined by Kayla Reno & Hannah Portwood from Midwest Services to talk about their Positive Youth Development Approach! We also talk about their awe-inspiring National Runaway Prevention Month campaign, the ADHD Child’s Bill of Rights, and the importance of meeting youth where they are.

Click here to learn more about Midwest Youth Services. 

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For the second week of NRPM we spoke with Emily Pereira, the Program Manager for the 6th Street Center for Youth and Heart Program at Youth4Change. In this episode we discuss developing unique plans for young people in need and the importance of giving them agency over their own journey. We also got to learn all about their mind-blowing National Runaway Prevention Month campaign and the many ways they involved the youth voice. 

Click here to visit Youth4Change.

Click here to visit 6th Street Center for Youth.

Click here for the Ghost Poppy + 6th Street Center “Shine A Light” Candle.

Ep. 2 Let's Talk #NRPM2022 with National Runaway Safeline CEO Susan Frankel

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It’s officially National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM) and we’re joined by Susan Frankel, CEO of the National Runaway Safeline. In this episode we discuss how NRPM has evolved over the past few years, the endless creativity of our NRPM partners, what to look forward to this November, and, of course, the importance of including the youth voice when talking about youth issues.
Click here to visit the NRPM home page.

BONUS! Let's Talk: Youth Helping Youth & Mental Health Programming in Schools with Max Neri

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In this bonus episode we are joined by Max Neri, an NRS Volunteer! Max shares valuable insight on what effective mental health programming in schools can look like, the importance of youth helping youth, and simple ways young people can make a difference in their own communities.
Learn more about National Runaway Safeline’s Youth Ambassador program for National Runaway Prevention Month, visit 1800RUNAWAY.org/ambassador

Ep. 1 Let's Talk: A Conversation with love is respect Director Angela Lee

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We’re kicking off season 3 with the incredible Angela Lee, Director at love is respect. In this episode we discuss domestic violence, teen dating violence, creating a safety plan, self-care, and the importance of open communication. 
love is respect is the national resource to disrupt and prevent unhealthy relationships and intimate partner violence by empowering young people through inclusive and equitable education, support, and resources. To learn more about this incredible organization, visit loveisrespect.org.
love is respect’s “Self-care Checklist” is available here: https://www.loveisrespect.org/resources/self-care-checklist/ 

Season 2

Let's Talk!
Episode 5 - Let's Talk: Trevor Project's Mental Health Survey
Episode 4 - Let's Talk: A Convo w/ Kimberly Waller
Episode 3 - Let's Talk: Child Abuse
Episode 2 - Let's Talk: Fenix Youth Project
Episode 1 - Let's Talk: Human Trafficking

Ep. 5 Let's Talk: The Trevor Project's 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health

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Fresh out of Pride Month we are joined by Dr. Jonah DeChants from The Trevor Project to discuss their 2022 Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health. Through the episode we learn about how youth self-identify, access to mental health resources, and how adults can be the person a young person in need can confide in.
From The Trevor Project: “Capturing the experiences of nearly 34,000 LGBTQ youth ages 13 to 24 across the United States, with 45% of respondents being LGBTQ youth of color and 48% being transgender or nonbinary, our fourth annual national survey is one of the most diverse surveys of LGBTQ youth ever conducted.”
Click here to learn more about the Trevor Project.

Ep. 4 Let's Talk: A conversation with FYSB ASsociate Commissioner Kimberly Waller

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Featuring Kimberly Waller

In this episode we are thrilled to learn from Kimberly Waller, the Associate Commissioner for the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB). Kimberly goes into great detail about the FYSB’s priorities, what effective community-base outreach looks like, and tips on how you can combat youth homelessness locally. 

Ep. 3 Let's Talk: Child Abuse

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Featuring Larel Jacobs

For episode 3 we are grateful to have an enlightening conversation with Larel Jacobs (of Childhelp.org) about reporting child abuse, having tough conversations with young people, and why more and more children under the age of 12 are reaching out to crisis service hotlines like Childhelp and National Runaway Safeline.
Childhelp is a US non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child abuse.

Ep. 2 Let's Talk: Fenix Youth Project

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Featuring Amber Green

In episode 2, we spotlight the winner of our National Runaway Prevention Month 2021 “Shine a Light” Award, the Fenix Youth Project. Led by Executive Director Amber Green, the organization serves youth in eastern Maryland through their 24h youth drop-in-center, and youth organizing group programs. Through this episode, we learn about the mission of the Fenix Youth Project, how they demonstrate true leadership through their vision of young person-centered advocacy, and how their work aligns with what we do at the National Runaway Safeline.

Ep. 1 Let's Talk: Human Trafficking

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Featuring Sophia Eftimiades

In the season 2 premiere episode, Maria Taylor, NRS Prevention and Youth Engagement Coordinator, is joined by Sophia Eftimiades, a Case Response Specialist at Polaris. Throughout this episode, Maria and Sophia discuss definitions and signs of human trafficking, the important work being done throughout Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and how human trafficking intersects with NRS’ work and commitment to serving homeless and runaway youth.

Season 1

Let's Talk!
Episode 6 - Let's Talk: Mental Health, Domestic/Gun Violence
Episode 5 - Let's Talk: Diagnosis, Disability & College
Episode 4 - Let's Talk: Indigenous Identity & Foster Care
Episode 3 - Let's Talk: Homelessness, Disability & Discrimination
Episode 2 - Let's Talk: Trauma, Immigration & Addiction
Episode 1 - Let's Talk: National Runaway Prevention Month

EP 6. Let's Talk: Mental Health, Domestic VIolence & Gun Violence

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Featuring Zachary Mallory

Zachary Mallory is a Kansas City native, whose passion is in mental health and suicide prevention. In their community, they provide services through Trauma-Informed Care and by prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion throughout their work both professionally and as a member of the NRS Youth Advisory Board. In this episode, Zachary shares their experiences with homelessness and housing insecurity, as a queer, non-binary person surviving domestic violence and gun violence.

EP 5. Let's Talk: Diagnosis, Disability & the College Experience

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Featuring Rachel Litchman

Raised in the Chicago suburbs, Rachel Litchman is a student studying Sociology and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Wisconsin. She is a member of the NRS Youth Advisory Board and the Dane County Youth Action Board. Rachel shares her experiences as a young person navigating the failures of our health care system, and how lack of diagnosis impacted the trajectory of her life.

EP 4. Let's Talk: Indigenous Identity & Foster Care

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Featuring Keeley BadWarrior

Keeley BadWarrior is from Rapid City, South Dakota, where she is currently a student at Western Dakota Technical College studying business and technology. Outside of her coursework, Keeley holds multiple jobs and is an active member of both the NRS Youth Advisory Board and the Rapid City Youth Action Board. In this interview, Keeley shares her experiences with homelessness and housing instability following her aging out of the foster care system.

EP 3. Let’s Talk: Homelessness, Disability & Discrimination

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Featuring EJ Valez

EJ Valez joins us from Kutztown College.  In addition to their ambitious course load, EJ works four part-time jobs, is a member of both the NRS Youth Advisory Board and the Youth Council Advisory Board with the National Network for Youth, and serves as a consultant for Youth Collaboratory. In this interview, EJ describes how they have experienced the intersection of youth homelessness, disability, and discrimination, and discusses their goals for the future.

EP 2. Let’s Talk: Generational Trauma, Immigration and Addiction

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Featuring Mariana Aguire Rios

Mariana Aguire Rios is a Denver native and certified Peer Support Specialist who has years of experience in children’s advocacy. Currently working at DenverHealth as a care navigator and serving as a member of the NRS Youth Advisory Board, Mariana shares her experiences as a young person navigating the complexities of homelessness, generational trauma, immigration and addiction, and how that led her to where she is today.

EP 1. Let's Talk: National Runaway prevention Month

Now Available

Featuring Susan Frankel

Susan Frankel, CEO of the National Runaway Safeline (NRS), helps launch the Let’s Talk podcast, detailing her own journey in the youth advocacy field. As NRS, the Family and Youth Services Bureau and partner organizations nationwide kick off National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM), Susan explains why NRPM is so important to NRS, and also to the runaway and homeless youth field as a whole.
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