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Youths in foster care system learn to navigate Airport
By Roishina C. Henderson

Jessica of LaGrange never has flown before, and she just recently took her first steps inside an airport. Her first trip to Hartsfield-Jackson wowed her.

"It's pretty amazing," said the 15-year-old foster care youth (whose last name is withheld for privacy reasons). "It's larger than I expected. When I do get a chance to fly, I'll be more prepared the next time I come to the Airport."

Helping youths in foster care to navigate in the world as productive individuals is the mission of the Independent Living Program. The group, formed through Georgia's Division of Family & Children Services, toured the Airport on July 14. The young people, ages 14 to 26, walked through the entire process of being a passenger.

The experience began with learning how to check in at an AirTran Airways ticket counter. AirTran employees Mark R. King and Karen Stripling provided travel tips and information about the airline.

The group went through the security checkpoint process and received a guided tour of the Zimbabwe art exhibit on the Transportation Mall from Aviation Art Program Manager David Vogt. DOA Transportation System Manager Christopher Smith shared details about the automated people mover train that carries passengers to the concourses.

As the group walked through the Airport, Dan Matthews, a Delta Air Lines pilot, gave an impromptu speech about being a pilot. Group members then were taken into the Ground Tower on Concourse E, where they learned more about Airport operations.

Youth Airport Tour

Art Program Manager David Vogt talks about the Zimbabwe exhibit with the group members.

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