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  • Writer's pictureSally Maeng

Not a sob story

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

Toni's story


Content warning: While this story carries a positive message, it shares stories about unhealthy families and childhood trauma.

Here is a heartbreaking hook: before Toni turned three-years-old, she was separated from her mom, an older sister, and an older brother. Toni became a permanent Crown Ward. She grew up in a foster home until she was 18-years-old.

Toni considers herself lucky because she grew up at one stable foster home. Thus, she did not experience the stress and, sometimes trauma, of moving 10-15 times during her lifetime as experienced by an average foster child. Now, she's working hard to defy statistics. Often, adults who were foster children find themselves in poverty, substance abuse, and mental illness. However, Toni is pursuing a college degree, working towards a career, and actively taking care of her mental health.

Can you guess what pulls Toni's heartstrings? Toni is passionate about helping children and youth become mentally healthy and feel inspired to succeed in life. While she wants all children and youth to achieve this goal, this is particularly challenging for foster children and youth. They often undergo stress and traumas that no one, nevermind a child, should have to experience. These events then affect their adulthood.

To be clear, this isn't some sob, guilt-trip story; it's just an honest one. And definitely, no one should feel sorry for Toni. She's on track to be the first in her family to attain a university degree. By studying child and youth care, Toni wants to become a Trauma Clinician Worker and work with kids from ages 5 to 18. Additionally, she dreams of becoming a foster mom and running a group home. But that's to help children and youth who are already in trouble and deals with trauma and PTSD.

Meanwhile, Toni advocates and will continue to fight for early home interventions to prevent pulling children from their homes. Toni is on a journey to zero, where zero children end up in government care. Everyone should grow up with a stable family.

Furthermore, moving is stressful. Abrupt moves with very little knowledge and understanding of what is happening can be a traumatic experience. Then throw in the possible reasons why children might get removed from their families in the first place. It creates shame, disappointment, and anger that often manifests in harmful, sometimes even criminal, behaviours.

Investing in our society's children and youth is investing in our community. We want our children and youth to feel motivated to be successful in life. However, research shows that growing up in dysfunctional homes makes it more likely that individuals will engage in delinquent activities and experience mental illness. Like how wearing face masks protects us and others from the coronavirus, supporting our young society members is more beneficial than we think.

Toni's story is a classic example where someone's most prominent pain became their most prominent passion. Thanks to people who have passions and grit like Toni, we can hope for a generation where more people boldly know they have an aptitude for greatness.


To contact Toni and learn more about this story, follow @t.moe94 on Instagram.


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