By Kimberly Alaric
Provincial Youth Advisor
As a former youth in care, I have realized that consistent support is one of the most important ingredients to a young person’s success.
For myself, the negative perception of government care was the most intimidating factor of this journey. I was afraid of how people in my community would view me, how it would impact the relationship I had with my family and the effect it would have on my future. I am sure that many youth can attest to these feelings of uncertainty while entering care. I dealt with shame and low self-worth daily, and I would not have overcome these feelings without the guidance I received from trusted people in my life.
Strong relationships are crucial as they provide support, opportunity, friendship and guidance. Youth in care need these to succeed, yet the main struggle they face is not feeling like they have personal support available. My life took a 180-degree turn for the best when I moved away from home and fully understood the benefit of support and love from my community. They pushed and challenged me onto a path of prosperity. I believe for many youth, the right relationship is key to starting paths that lead to personal growth and development.
For some, this can be the relationships youth have with their social workers. Social workers are the front-line faces of the Ministry of Children and Family Development and can be excellent resources for youth in care. My experience with social workers is, overall, quite positive. They were able to provide me with all the information and assistance necessary to succeed, from the time I entered care to when I finished post-secondary. I have been privileged with amazing social workers, and it is because of the relationships I have formed with them that I have encountered incredible opportunities, like the Provincial Youth Advisory Council.
I have worked as a provincial youth advisor for just shy of a year and regionally in the Okanagan since 2018. In this work, I have met numerous youth who demonstrate resiliency and drive. I believe that youth in care are just as, if not more, capable to take on life’s challenges, for we are able to adapt, persevere and surpass bad situations. With supportive relationships in our lives, we can use our struggles as landmarks of growth and show ourselves what we are truly capable of.
I want to say thank you to everyone I have crossed paths with. You helped direct me into a position that I am incredibly proud to be in. Without your helping hands, I never would have received the opportunities that guided me into becoming a commercial pilot.
My message to people who have the opportunity to connect with youth in care: do it. You have no idea the impact your presence will have on these kids. Reaching out will help crush the negative perception youth in care struggle with daily and give them the guidance and mentorship they need in order to succeed.