Alicia’s mother started using drugs, which led to the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) being involved with her family. She was removed from her home after about four months of involvement and placed in a caregiver’s home. Luckily, within a few months she was able to move into the transitional housing unit at the YSB’s Evelyn Horne Young Women’s Shelter.

“I loved living at transitional… staff were a huge help to me.”

She is now living in YSB’s long-term housing. Her involvement with YSB’s Drop-in began because she was encouraged to stop relying on her CAS worker; she was referred to the Drop-in for support and services.

She attended high school, but dropped out for almost a year before being referred to Operation Come Home’s Achievement Centre to continue her education.

Her biggest challenges? “Letting go of what happened… forgiving, knowing that my goals and my dreams are still there; just staying strong.”

“It’s been really hard to forget about what my mother did and focus on what’s next in my life, but it’s a long process and I’m getting there.

“It was important to me to see that I wasn’t the only one going through this stuff, that I could fit in somewhere, and that I certainly wasn’t the worst off.”

When Alicia told the teacher at the Achievement Centre that she wanted to go into nursing, she hooked her up with a chance to volunteer at CHEO and to get her foot in the door in the nursing program there. She’s going to take advantage of the fact that she’s a ward of the Crown and will have her schooling paid, so she’s going to enroll in the Nursing program at Algonquin College.

Her words of advice for other youth in the same situation: “Stay strong, be yourself, don’t worry about impressing anyone. Don’t ever worry about what your friends and peers are saying about you, because it only matters what you think of yourself. Remember that your goals don’t run away from you, you run away from them!”

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