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Monte Durham helps girls Say Yes to the Prom at Discovery Communications event

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Say Yes to the Prom

Iyona Anderson knew one thing going into Tuesday’s Say Yes to the Prom event at Discovery Communications – there was no way she was going to select a ball gown. The feisty 17-year-old had dubbed her style anti-princess and was on the hunt for a sleeker look.


Fast forward a couple of hours, and Anderson beamed as she twirled in a blue creation of sparkles and tulle that would do Cinderella proud. She gushed that she was never taking it off as she hurried off to find matching shoes and accessories.


“She definitely said yes to that dress,” said Monte Durham, host of “Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta.”


Durham had traveled to Silver Spring, Md., home of Discovery Communications’ headquarters, to be a part of the special day that gave 40 local high school girls a chance to select prom attire from a donated collection. The pre-prom event was modeled after the popular TLC show “Say Yes to the Dress.” Anderson was one of five KidsPeace foster teens from Maryland and Washington D.C. chosen to be part of the second annual event. Accompanying Anderson for the day of glamour were Christina Washington, 18, Annie Stitt-Johnson, 18, Sade’ Padilla, 16, and Aunica Shebex, 18.


Each girl was paired with a Discovery employee who served as mentor for the day. More than 800 dresses were donated for the event, and Discovery Communications staff transformed part of their headquarters into prom central. Dresses were displayed on garment racks, and an entire room was turned into a beauty salon. In addition to choosing their perfect dresses, the teenagers got to pick shoes, jewelry and handbags, all of which are theirs to keep. Seamstresses were on site to perform alterations, and the young ladies were treated to hair styling, makeup application and manicures.


Durham provided style tips and instructed the girls on how to carry themselves. He talked about “building the look beyond the dress,” and told the group that “accessories make or break the outfit.” He told them fit is the most important element when choosing clothing, and said standing in third position, with the heel of one foot positioned near the arch of the other, will help them have good posture. The young ladies took his advice to heart, heads held high as they ended the day with a red carpet runway walk to show off their looks. They chose a variety of styles, but every one of them eagerly said yes to the dress.


Watch newscasts about the event from CBS WUSA9 and Fox 5. Learn more about the event on Twitter under #SYTTP.


KidsPeace Photo | GINA SEYFRIED

From left: Aunica Shabex, Sade' Padilla, Annie Stitt-Johnson,Christina Washington and Iyona Anderson


Health websites provide trusted information to kids, teens, parents

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By Kristen Fritz

Kids are curious about their health and how their bodies work; especially when they get to their teen years. The Internet has become a way of life when it comes to searching for information, but search engines may not always populate the most accurate information. So how can parents be sure that their children are accessing the right resources in regards to their health and wellbeing? Well, now there are various kid-friendly health websites that children can go to for reliable and helpful information that parents can feel confident about.


Some of these sites can even be accessed on the Kids Peace website, a great resource for kids and parents to use.


This site provides a wealth of information for kids and adults. Kids can find what it means to hiccup or what it means to be "big boned," while there is a section that explains adult health problems such as Alzheimer's and heart disease. In the teen section, you will find more mature material, such as information on relationships, drugs and sexual health. Just so parents can trust the information their kids are reading, all information is created by health professionals and underwritten by the Nemours Foundation.


Go Ask Alice!


This website is geared more toward teens and college-aged students. Go Ask Alice answers users' health-related questions. There are more than 1,000 questions on file that fall into these categories: Alcohol & Other Drugs, Emotional Health, General Health, Nutrition & Physical Activity, and Relationships and Sexual & Reproductive Health. You can submit your own question if you can't find one that already exists. Each week, a panel of health professionals answers new questions, and answers in the database are periodically reviewed and updated. The site also contains quizzes and polls and is written and produced by Columbia University.


BAM! Body and Mind


Need to know how to deal with a bully? Ever wonder what fungus and bacteria may be lurking in the locker room? Well, this fun site is a perfect place for teens to explore health, fitness and social questions that includes an A-Z index at the top of the site. Articles and quizzes are written by professionals at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


CDC Kids' Quest   


The CDC's Kids' Quest site offers basic facts on mental health conditions, such as ADHD, Autism and Tourette Syndrome, and physical health concerns, such as vision and hearing loss. It also includes quizzes that help kids sort fact from fiction and suggested books and bios of famous people who had these health challenges. This website was also created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

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By Denise Morganthall


According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) nearly 1.7 million people suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year.


TBI results from an external force such as a blow or jolt to the head. The severity can range from mild, such as a concussion, to severe, involving an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia. Brain injuries should be identified and treated as quickly as possible. Most people with TBI recover quickly and fully. But for some people symptoms can last for days, weeks or longer and in severe cases can lead to coma and even death. It takes time for the brain to heal, which is why repeated injuries, such as in domestic violence cases, are particularly dangerous.


Males are about 1.5 times as likely as females to sustain a TBI, and the two age groups at highest risk for TBI are 0-4 year olds and 15 to 19 year olds. One example of a traumatic brain injury that could affect the younger set is Shaken Baby Syndrome.


While KidsPeace does not specialize in this type of treatment, we are aware that TBI is a critical health concern and recognize that it is critical for those who are injured to be seen by a healthcare professional immediately. And as with many conditions, family involvement can be an essential component to recovery.

Fostering Hearts: When a foster child leaves

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Dr. John DeGarmoBy Dr. John DeGarmo


Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of being a foster parent is the moment when your foster child leaves your home. When any foster child leaves your home, no matter the level of attachment, there will be emotions when it is time to say goodbye, for both you and the child. There are indeed several reasons why a foster child might be removed from your home. Whether the reason is reunification, adoption or the placement into another home, the transition will be a much easier one with a few simple steps by the foster parent.


How your foster child is told that he is leaving can be a difficult conversation. You and the caseworker need to decide how best to inform the child. Whoever should be the one to tell your foster child needs to do so in a way that is marked with care, sincerity, kindness, and honesty. If he is excited about returning to his home and his parents, celebrate this with him. Perhaps have a going away party, and celebrate his time with you. If he is concerned and full of anxiety about moving to another foster home, an adoptive one or even about moving back to his own home, speak to him in positive terms, keeping a positive attitude with him. Remind him that he is an important person and that you care for him and want the best for him.


Try to find out as much information about the situation as you can. If possible, acquire the phone number of the family he is moving to from your caseworker and call them ahead of time, introducing yourself to them. Allow your foster child to speak with them, getting to know them a little before the move. If permissible, arrange for a visit with the family, along with the caseworker, allowing all sides the opportunity to meet face to face.


Make sure you pack everything he owns, including everything he came with to your home. Include as many group photographs of him with your family as possible. Place some self-addressed, stamped envelopes in his suitcase so that he can write to you from his new home. Add some stationary, pencils and pens, so that he has everything he needs to write to you. Also, include contact information for him, such as your address, phone numbers and email address.


To help him in this time of transition, it is important to reach out and contact him. Call him on the phone and allow him to tell you all about his new home and new family. Write letters to him and send pictures of your family and family events to him from time to time. Remember birthdays and other important events in his life, including holidays and school events and send cards. If you live nearby, let him know when you can attend school functions and extra-curricular activities or programs of his. 


Saying goodbye is never easy for anyone, and may be especially difficult for you and your foster child. With the right preparation, this time of transition can be a little bit easier for all involved.


Dr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent for 11 years, and he and his wife have had more than 30 children come through their home. He is a speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system, and travels around the nation delivering passionate, dynamic, energetic and informative presentations. Dr. DeGarmo is the author of the highly inspirational and bestselling book "Fostering Love: One Foster Parent’s Story," and the upcoming book "The Foster Parenting Manual: A Practical Guide to Creating a Loving, Safe and Stable Home." He also writes for a number of publications and newsletters, both in the United States, and overseas. Dr. DeGarmo can be contacted at, through his Facebook page or at his website.





Couple finds joy in adoption of Ethiopian boy

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adoption-hands-kidspeaceBy Kristen Fritz


They say a mother’s love is irreplaceable and undeniably pure, but being told that you are unable to have children can be heartbreaking and create emptiness. You want to fill a desire that cannot be met. Fortunately, for a Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., couple, their wish came true.


After adopting their first child; Ethan, Kristin and Will Banker hosted a boys’ choir from Kenya through their church. They fell in love with them, and their “eyes were opened” to the bleak outlook for the large number of orphans in the area, the couple states in a Northwest Florida Daily News article. They found 7-month old Tariku through their adoption agency and read his story and browsed through his photos. The moment the Bankers saw Tariku, they knew he was their son.


Kenya does not have an international adoption program, but Ethiopia does for 5 million children without families, Will said. Kristin felt a calling to adopt, and with time Will did as well.


“When God tells you to do something, you just do it,” Kristin said.


A new policy in Ethiopia requires prospective adoptive parents to make two trips. The extra cost and time required for travel seemed too much for them. They started to switch their paperwork to a domestic adoption, but after experiencing a multitude of “signs,” Kristin was convinced she was meant to adopt an Ethiopian child.


After regretfully turning down a little girl, they came across Tariku and instantly fell in love. International adoption in Ethiopia must be approved by local courts with the prospective parents present. After 13 long months, their adoption finally passed and they were able to go get their child.


They finally made it back home in early January. Their new life as a family of four has been an adjustment for everyone, but they’re settling into a new kind of normal. Their adoption journey was long and full of ups and downs, but the Bankers said they would do it all over again. 

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