IDA Participant Wins 2010 TeenNick HALO Award
An Assets for Independence (AFI) project participant was one of four recent teen winners of the 2010 TeenNick HALO Awards, which recognize teens who are “Helping and Leading Others.” Lauren Huichan holds an AFI-supported Individual Development Account (IDA) through WESST in Albuquerque, NM, and received a $10,000 scholarship and another $10,000 for the charity of her choice for her dedication to improving the lives of children in the foster care system.
Children’s TV network Nickelodeon announced the awards in November and paired the winners with celebrities for greater recognition and as further reward. Lauren enjoyed a day with Mariah Carey, a strong supporter of children’s programs, and her husband Nick Cannon at their home in Los Angeles. Nickelodeon’s TeenNick network televised Lauren’s experience on December 10.
When Lauren was 12, authorities removed her from the custody of her abusive parents and put her into foster care. She lived mostly in group homes, but was removed from 22 placements in 2 years and expelled from school at age 15 for fighting and drug abuse. After being placed in treatment foster care, Lauren got involved in Adelante Youth Advocates of New Mexico and connected with kids from similar backgrounds. She also re-enrolled in high school at Albuquerque’s Creative Education Preparatory Institute.
There, Lauren participated in the youth financial literacy program offered by AFI grantee WESST. In addition to gaining money management skills, she was able to save money in an IDA to put toward her education.
Lauren is now a freshman at the University of New Mexico and plans to major in psychology. She is also president of Adelante, the organization that helped her turn her life around. Lauren serves on the board of Friends of Foster Children; is a co-facilitator for Gerard’s House, a grief and loss center for foster youth; and works with the Heart Gallery of New Mexico Foundation and CASA (Child Appointed Youth Advocates).
View the full story on WESST’s Web site.
This article originally ran in the IDAresources.org Update Newsletter on 12/16/10 and is available for archival purposes.