Youth Villages stories

Tyra giving keynote speech at Janie's Fund Grammy Watch Party

LifeSet helps Tyra use her voice to advocate for others

Feb 12, 2024 | Blog

For youth aging out of foster care without support, the future can be daunting. Some young people experience homelessness, poverty, domestic abuse and involvement with law enforcement.

With the trauma that she suffered as a child, Tyra struggled when she aged out alone at 18. She was referred to the Youth Villages LifeSet program.

Tyra speaking at Achieving Success conveningWith the help of her LifeSet specialist, Tyra graduated high school, earned her associate degree and will receive her bachelor’s degree in psychology science this spring. She’s started her own business, bought her first home and got married. Now, she mentors young people and tells her story for those who need help – and for those who can help.

She was the keynote speaker at the Achieving Success: Partnering with Transition-Age Young Adults for Strong Mental Health Workshop in Las Vegas late last year. She was also the featured speaker at the 5th-annual Jam for Janie Grammy Awards® Viewing Party. The event raises donations for Janie’s Fund, the philanthropic initiative between rockstar Steven Tyler and Youth Villages, that helps girls and young women who have experienced trauma.

Tyra speaking at Achieving Success convening

Abuse, constant moving provided no safe space, stability

Her childhood was rocky. She was left with her grandmother when her mother moved away without knowing why.

While living with her grandmother, Tyra suffered physical, emotional and spiritual abuse, and feels as if she grew up on the streets.

Eventually, her behavior led her to involvement with law enforcement. “At 12 years old, I received my first juvenile legal charge and was sent to live with my mother who I never really knew,” Tyra said.

Tyra lived with her mother for eight months, and while there she suffered abuse from her stepdad. Her mother didn’t believe her story and sent Tyra off to live with her father with whom Tyra had no relationship. “By the time I was 16 years old, I was a meth addict and I attempted suicide for the first time in my life,” Tyra said.

Following the abuse, Tyra went to therapy, but she continued to struggle, and she was admitted to a mental hospital. A week later, she was in court for her pending charges and suicidal ideation.

Tyra was diagnosed with bipolar disorder PTSD, major depression and ADHD, and those manifested themselves in physical aggression, drug use, running away and negative relationships.

“The two years that I was incarcerated, I was in two mental hospitals, two juvenile detention centers and multiple residential facilities,” Tyra said. “I was sent home, but after a few months, I was returned to foster care. While there, I relapsed on drugs, ran away from my foster home and went back into the system. Those long months changed my life and a lot more than I imagined.”

Tyra was referred to Youth Villages and began to work through her trauma with a therapist.

“She helped me make my trauma narrative and go through the process of what had happened to me,” Tyra said. “That trauma narrative is the reason why I’m able to tell my story.”

With the support, resources, therapists, treatment plans, coping skills, mentorships and ultimately my village, I can conquer anything.

- Tyra

LifeSet changes trajectory of Tyra’s journey

Tyra had aged out at 18 but was able to still receive support through Extension of Foster Care (EFC). She was free and ready to start a new life; however, she faced another challenge.

“I did not know this world. I was in this new city, and I didn’t have any support, any family,” Tyra said. “I got so overwhelmed just two months after aging out that I attempted to take my life a second time. I was in ICU for 17 hours. This, though, was the last time I ever felt suicidal. I decided that I just wanted to live through whatever was coming.”

At around this time, Tyra was introduced to LifeSet, and with the help of her specialist, Gladyn, she began to build her village — a network of support that led to her success.

Tyra and her specialist talking and smiling at the beach

LifeSet is an individualized, evidence-informed community-based program where specialists meet with young people who age out of foster care face-to-face at least once each week. LifeSet stabilizes the toughest situations and helps young people build healthy relationships, obtain safe housing, education and employment.

Tyra faced another obstacle in late 2022 when she lost her home to a house fire. The fire brought more trauma for Tyra because the home had provided stability and permanency in her life. Despite the tragedy, Tyra remained strong.

“In this situation, I didn’t relapse into suicidal ideations because my life is so much different now,” Tyra said. “If it weren’t for Youth Villages and other foster care programs being there, I don’t know what I would have done after losing everything and having to start over again.

“With the support, resources, therapists, treatment plans, coping skills, mentorships and ultimately my village, I can conquer anything. I’m still healing, I’m still on this journey, and I want to be able to be the advocate for kids in foster care or transitioning to adulthood now.”

For more information on LifeSet, go to

Share on Social