Campers are teens in foster care; the community is invited to performance at 6 p.m.

Largo, Fla. (June 21, 2023) – The community is invited to cheer on teens in the local foster care system at the Just Like Me exhibition of talent Thursday night at Pinellas Technical College in Clearwater, starting at 6 p.m.

The show is the culmination of three weeks of interactive arts education, led by Family Support Services Pasco and Pinellas Counties and The Performers Academy. The arts camp is specially designed for young people ages 14-17 in out-of-home care and directed by working artists in different fields, including dance, theater, visual art, recording arts, singing/song writing, lyricism and fashion design– all of which will be on display during the production Thursday night.

 “Our mission is to share the arts with everybody – especially teens who may not otherwise be exposed to it. Just Like Me gives teens in care the chance to work together and share their stories, in their own terms,” says Kathryn McAvoy, Executive Director of The Performers Academy, which founded the camp in Jacksonville in partnership with FSS more than a decade ago and expanded to Pasco and Pinellas counties this summer. “These kids have been carrying stories in them they feel they can’t share anywhere else, in any other way. Using the arts as therapy in a safe space allows them to learn new skills, create a bond and express themselves in ways they have never imagined before.”

Nyla Williams, FSS’ Director of Youth Well-Being, says watching the teens transform over the course of the camp has been part of the joy of their experience – and the agency is already thinking about next year.

“We had 14 teens in this year’s Just Like Me camp from Pasco and Pinellas counties, and that’s a great turnout especially for a first-year program,” says Williams. “The more we see our kids learning and healing in the program, the more we hope to expand the camp to other disciplines and new experiences and bring the community together to support them as well.”

Thursday night, however, is all about honoring this first class and their talents. “These teens are amazing,” says McAvoy. “You won’t believe the original material they have created in such a short period of time. I look forward to the community coming together to celebrate their accomplishments!” 

WHERE: Pinellas Technical College
Building 10
6100 154th Ave N., Clearwater, FL 33760

WHEN: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. (expected)
 Light reception to follow.

Admittance is free. Any media interested in an interview must connect with a FSS liaison when arriving on site to identify who may appear on camera, in order to protect the privacy of youth in the system of care.

About Family Support Services (FSS) of Pinellas and Pasco Counties

Family Support Services is the lead agency for family preservation, foster care and adoption services in Duval, Nassau, Pasco and Pinellas counties. Through community-based care, FSS provides services and programs to help prevent child abuse and neglect, to promote a healthy family environment and to care for our community’s children in foster care. For more information, go to familysupport.org.

About The Performers Academy

The Performers Academy (TPA) is dedicated to sharing the power of the performing arts with the entire community. We are committed to helping individuals find their passion for the performing arts – especially those who may not otherwise be exposed to its power. TPA believes improving quality of life is heavily rooted in improving family and community engagement. Learn more about TPA, its mission and programs at www.jaxtpa.org.