When Squidisha Clarke Royal had her first child at 17, she knew her life was going to change.
But it wasn’t until she joined the Women Moving Forward program that she realized it would change for the better.
Based in the Jane and Finch Community and Family Centre, the program helps young single mothers get an education and create a future for themselves and their children.
Through a series of phases, the program helps welfare-dependant mothers make a quick transition to post-secondary education. Graduates gathered at an event called “From Poverty to Prosperity” on Nov. 9 to celebrate their success.
Royal, now 21 and a child mother of two, first joined Women Moving Forward in February. 2008. Today, she is the top participant from her group and has registered in Seneca College’s fashion design program for January. 2010.
She says that while having a child at a young age was one of the hardest things she’s experienced, it was also the factor that motivated her to change her life.
“If I didn’t have those two kids, I wouldn’t have known I could have accomplished certain things,” she said. “When you’re a mother, you think differently, you know you’re strong and independent.”
Others in the program, like Teicia Ashley, who joined in September. 2008, can relate to Royal’s story.
She said that the program has given her the confidence to move forward in life.
“It has empowered me as a black woman living in Jane and Finch all my life,” she said. “It gave me the potential to know that I am capable of being successful, as a single mother of two living in this area.”
Royal is just another example of the many young parents who have succeeded through the Woman Moving Forward program. But she realizes she wouldn’t have succeeded without some help.
“Once you have kids that look up to you, you want to better your life and achieve things in your life that you thought you couldn’t,” she said. “They give you the push to be strong and focused, and to keep your dreams ahead of you, not behind you.”