A maiden voyage will set sail in April and is aimed at giving former foster kids confidence and courage for a future they might not otherwise have imagined.
The I Can Foundation takes youth who have aged out of foster care and gives them hope.
Six teens, two of them from the Tampa Bay area, will soon set sail for 90 days to the Caribbean. A former foster youth and now 19-year-old Myshawn Haynes is looking forward to the trip.
"Experience something new and connecting and building relationships with people I don’t know," said Haynes.
Haynes and the others will learn life skills and experience the world while learning about themselves.
"Being able to understand your self-worth when you leave the boat, that’s what’s so important for us that you understand anything you put your mind to you can do," said I Can Co-Founder, Sean Ives.
Liz Sutherland wrote the book "No Ordinary Liz." In it, she focuses on aging out of foster care after living in more than a dozen homes. She says she considered strangers her family. Sutherland is the inspiration behind the I Can program and is now an advocate. While she recently got to take the sailing trip and it changed her life, she says experiencing something like this in her teens would have been profound.
From cultural immersion, to sea survival, SCUBA diving, CPR, budgeting and cooking, participants learn unique skills – all coming from similar backgrounds.
"I was in foster care for about three years and I only stayed in like two group homes," said Haynes.
I Can aims to build confidence and make sure those who were in foster care know their self-worth. The sailboat's namesake, Liz relates with Myshawn and the others who will set sail. She's excited for the young sailors to embrace the experience.
"This opportunity is for them to find themselves to find like I did, hope and to be able just be themselves and to be able to take in everything that is coming their way and just figure out, who am I?" said Sutherland.
Myshawn says he will set sail with an open mind.
"Anything is possible. You have to chase it. It's not going to come to you," said Haynes.
Haynes' high school football coach adopted him and his twin brother at age 17. The teen has dreams of being in the NFL and will head to Florida A&M University in the fall. Like Sutherland, Haynes wants to give back to foster kids.
"Help kids like me that don't have nowhere to go or a future, help them find their future," said Haynes.
The I Can sailing trip could lead Myshawn to that future. It sets sail in April.
"I'm looking forward to it," said Haynes.