November is National Adoption month. A perfect time to shed light on the great need for permanent homes and adult mentors for older youth living in foster care or getting ready to age out. Older youth are an oft overlooked and misunderstood group. To give you some insight into teens struggling with disrupted familial relationships, here are some movie recommendations from our CASA staff. Have your tissue box handy.
Spare Parts (2015), starring Hollywood heavy hitters, delivers a powerful one-two punch in a riveting true-life story of four Latino teens from a disaffected working-class community in Arizona. Dealing with the complexities of poverty, undocumented status, and dwindling options for a prosperous future, the teens form a robotics team led by their disgruntled science teacher played by George Lopez. At the urging of a persistent school principal, humorously played by Jamie Lee Curtis, the teens end up winning a national robotics competition against the likes of M.I.T., Cornell and Virginia Tech. While the plot is somewhat predictable, the stark power of the difference an involved, caring adult mentor makes in an older youth’s life is palpable. We have it on good authority that this one brought a tear to the eye of a well-known local university football coach.
Two other movies our staff recommend and with similar themes about the plight of older youth include, Lean on Pete (2017), a British drama follows a 15-year-old boy who begins to work at a stable and befriends an ailing race horse. Leave No Trace (2018), based on a true story follows a military veteran father with PTSD as he attempts to raise his teen daughter while living in a forest. The young actors do great justice to well-portrayed characters struggling with parental substance misuse, their own neglect and complex trauma, and parental mental health issues. Both movies are based on novels.