Imbler junior giving a voice to the voiceless

By Dick Mason, The Observer May 20, 2013 01:10 pm

Imbler High School junior Cain Stellings, a member of the Oregon Foster Youth Connection team, is campaigning for Senate Bill 123. The legislation would create a bill of rights for the thousands of Oregon children and teenagers in foster homes. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)
Imbler High School junior Cain Stellings, a member of the Oregon Foster Youth Connection team, is campaigning for Senate Bill 123. The legislation would create a bill of rights for the thousands of Oregon children and teenagers in foster homes. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)
 

IMBLER — Imbler High School junior Cain Stellings considers himself lucky, but he knows that many others in his situation do not share his good fortune.

This realization is inspiring Stellings to step forward and speak out in a big way.

Stellings, a member of the Oregon Foster Youth Connection team, is campaigning for Senate Bill 123. The legislation would create a bill of rights for the thousands of Oregon children and teenagers in foster homes. 

“There are 13,000 youths in foster care (in Oregon) and many may not know what their rights are. They need to know them,” said Stellings, who recently testified before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on behalf of SB 123.

Stellings knows what he’s talking about. Stellings has been in foster care for three years but considers himself fortunate to be in a stable and caring home environment. He has had just one set of foster parents, but he knows of other youths who have lived in more than a dozen homes in the course of just a few years. These youths are on the forefront of Stellings’ mind as he speaks out on their behalf. 

“I am the kind of person who likes to make a difference in people’s lives,” Stellings said. “I have been inspired to step forward and take it on.”

Stellings is one of three foster care youths who recently testified before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee about SB 123. The three also met with legislators individually to speak on behalf of the bill. He is enjoying the opportunity to meet with legislators and speak up for those who often are not spoken for.

“It has been an amazing experience,” Stellings said.

Imbler School District Superintendent Doug Hislop is impressed with Stellings’ efforts. He said that his work ethic, personable nature and speaking ability are serving him well. 

“He’s a good kid, he’s a giver, he’s very sharing. He’s well accepted by his peers,” Hislop said. 

Stellings is preparing to testify before a legislative committee again in June on behalf of SB 123. Stellings said he does not feel intimidated when speaking to influential state leaders

“My mindset is that when you are doing something you know is right, there is no reason to feel intimidated,” he said.