Humanitarian Award for Community ServiceMay 6, 2015
Safe at Last – One Family’s StoryAugust 20, 2015
When she was 12 years old Raniqua emigrated from St. Vincent to live with her aunt in Toronto. After 3 years in Canada she was not a typical 15-year old. Her adjustment to her new country left her feeling depressed and hopeless. She could not get along with her family. She was not doing well at school. She felt that there was no point in getting up in the morning. She was not happy with her life and felt that she had nothing to look forward to.
When the youth worker at school referred her to Yorktown for help Raniqua was very skeptical. She thought to herself “how is counselling going to help me get through the pain and sadness I am feeling inside?” She was about to find out. The first thing she noticed was how friendly all of theYorktown staff were. When she met with her social worker she was surprised that the worker actually listened to her and provided choices.
“The first choice 1 made was to attend the Reconnecting program” Raniqua recalls. “When I came to the group, I noticed that there was a very positive vibe and lots of laughter. There were lots of fun and creative things for us to do like dancing, singing, and crafts. I got to meet other kids who were going through the same things that I was.” In the group Raniqua learned how to stay positive and to have respect for others. She also learned how to get along better with her family members at home.
Raniqua recounts her experience at Yorktown: “When I started counselling I was feeling unhappy and bored with my life. Once I started to express my feelings with someone I trusted, I started to feel that I had more control in my life. I started to have more self respect and my attitude became more positive. I also learned how to handle bad situations I was going through. For example, I changed schools and started at Central Technical which is a very big school, and it was very intimidating at first. But I learned how to make and keep friends, and I started to make school a priority in my life. I actually liked school for once! I also learned the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships and how to be in a balanced relationship. Now, I place more value on my life, friendship, family and school.”
Raniqua plans to serve as a Peer Mentor to help other youth in the next Reconnecting Program.