Empowering Youth in the Courtroom
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Aloha! My name is Kholby, I am currently 21 years old and the Vice President of the Maui HI H.O.P.E.S. Board. I would like to talk about how youth can engage in their court hearings and be able to decide and speak up for themselves. It has been my experience while in care that decisions were always made for me, but never including my opinions or what I’ve experienced. I felt hopeless. I had no control over what was being done to me. I had no one who genuinely had my best interests in mind. It wasn’t until I attended a Dream Day event on Maui that I learned that I had rights as a youth in care to attend my own court hearings, make decisions on the planning process, or just even being heard and noticed. Since I transitioned out of care at 18, I’ve actively attended my court hearings and advocated for youth in my community do the same.
The Dream Day event is an informative event for youth in care that HI H.O.P.E.S. puts on every year. During this event, we include family court judges and HI H.O.P.E.S. Board members that put on a mock trial court hearing where youth are able to get comfortable with their family court judges and be open to what's going on in the courtroom. It is very important for youth to not only know what's going on in the courtroom but to also engage in their hearing. It is very important that youth are not afraid to speak up and ask questions. It's your hearing, and you have the right to be a part of your hearing and express your thoughts, feelings, and opinions on matters that involve you.
Learn more about the HI H.O.P.E.S. Initiative on the Epic Ohana website.