Written by Troy Elleston, Never Too Late Team Member
At age 26, I still consider myself one of the lucky ones, even though my experience in care was not always the most glorious, euphoric or exciting. You would think that by now, a 26-year-old man, would have his life tightly decided and his future put together with a picturesque vision of a clear tomorrow.
My name is Troy Elleston, I respond to the pronouns he, his, and I am a recent graduate from the Ontario Tech University, a Youth Educator & Advocate, Mentor and Business Professional in my community. And like so many of my peers, such as young people formerly acknowledged as youth-in-care, and/or newly acknowledged as youth-in-transition, right now, life for me happens to be just that: a transition!
A transition from adolescence into adulthood, from student to tutor, tutor to professional educator, but most of all, from foster child to becoming an adopted son to two beautiful, gifted parents. In general, life is about finding permanency in some way, shape or form, and today, I too find myself searching for permanency in almost every aspect of my life.
My life in care, commenced at age 9, when I entered my first foster home, after being separated from my single mother who suffered from depression and emotional anxiety. At the time, I struggled to find hope and had so many questions that no one could provide answers to. And after enduring sexual abuse for over a year, I was moved into my second foster home prior to age 11, where I found the permanency I needed to stay hopeful. This meant, finding a place of stability in my first real home, a place of learning and development in school, a place of solace in church and a place of refuge in my own bedroom. This meant finally experiencing security, tranquility and peace amid a passing storm. This meant finding both mental and physical shelter.
But as grateful as I am to have found permanency for the future, I struggle to visualize a future without permanency for so many other young people who are aging out or about to age out of care with no community or support systems. The inexplicable desire to see young people find security through permanency led me to search for opportunities within my networks to give back to those young people.
Change is difficult, no matter who you are, but the benefits of securing a life of permanency, can be hugely impactful to a young person.
In February 2020, I joined the program, “Never Too Late”, to act on my personal vision, to help build and train a strong community of peer-to-peer support groups filled with empathetic humans, who could support young people, by meeting them at their places of need. The best way they can!
Check out a recent performance by Troy on a Virtual Panel hosted by Ontario Children's Advocacy Coalition. Troy's piece begins 21 minutes in.
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