From the age of nine to eighteen, Michael was in a foster home, but his experience was a little different than most in that his grandparents were the ones caring for him. They provided a good place for Michael to live, “but it wasn’t ideal,” he says. “It’s just not ideal to not have parents.”
After aging out of care at 19, he decided to move to Australia with a friend. “I was in the headspace where I was kind of lost, didn’t know what I really wanted to do,” he remembers. “I didn’t really have much of a support system. And I was just thinking, like, I’m probably going to die young. And just acting recklessly.”
A year and a half later, he came back to Vancouver, but was just getting by with social assistance and the few odd jobs he could find. After some difficult life experiences, he realized that his life path was off course and he had to take another direction.
A new direction
“By having Youth Futures as a resource, I was given a fork in the road, an opportunity to collect my thoughts and focus my energy on building a promising life trajectory. It made the pursuit of higher education so much easier.”
Although Michael received other financial assistance as a former youth in care through bursaries and grants, like the Youth Education Assistance Fund, it wasn’t enough. “The Youth Futures Education Fund really made the difference,” he says.
Today, Michael’s future is bright. He’s currently in his 3rd year of a Bachelor’s of Social Work at UBC, planning to work with youth in transition so he can help others connect to the same resources that have helped him get to where he is today. “You can’t really fully comprehend what those barriers are like. It’s impossible to communicate. Feeling like an outsider… it can be difficult, and when you have financial barriers removed, you can invest more time into other things to the betterment of your life and give back to society in another way.”
(Photo credit: Ben Shanks unsplash.com)