Tamara was a client of YSB in the mid-90s. As a teen and later single parent, she was able to complete high school and get a job with YSB’s help, as well as speaking out as a youth activist. She is now in retail management.

I first started visiting YSB when I started grade 9. I was dealing with depression and anger issues. My behaviours and actions were spiraling due to my use of drugs and constant drinking. I had tried to harm myself many times and was beyond the point of helping myself on my own. I was referred to YSB by my school counsellor and by my parents. I met regularly with my counsellor at YSB to try to find alternative ways to channel my anger and depression. She was a great help. I was able to talk about my personal issues, and know that I was not being judged, nor would she break my confidence in her.

I continued to have regular visits with her until the end of grade 10. By the end of our sessions, I had learned it was ok to be upset, but not ok to be violent. She taught me that many people are going through hardships, and it is up to me to deal with it. I am the one who allows myself to be angry and to react to different situations. She also helped me with my drug problems. She referred me to a program that also helped a lot. It took me a while, and it was a hard road to take, but in the end it all worked out.

Through my counselling, I was introduced to the Regional Youth Advisory Committee (RYAT). With this committee, I was able to learn about different cultures and issues that face the youth of our city. I was acquainted with many youth and adults around the city in an effort to bridge gaps between youth, adults, the city, media and service providers. I acted as a voice on behalf of the youth of Ottawa. It gave me great pride to be able to give back to my city.

My experience with YSB is one I will forever remember. Although I could never put everything they have helped me with into words, I want them (and everyone else) to know how much their help is appreciated. The life lessons I have learned, and the acceptance and understanding of other people has helped me with my everyday life decisions.

When I got pregnant at 19 years old I was able to clean myself up, remove myself from the harmful people in my life, and have a very healthy boy at the age of 20. I learned to hold a steady job, completed high school, teach my son important values and to appreciate and accept others for who they are, not their colour or how they look/speak/dress, or for their beliefs. I have learned that everyone is a person, and that everyone deserves respect.