Viva is a vivacious young woman who is 20 years young, with a passion for art, digital design and the Calgary Stampede Showband. Viva has overcome a variety of obstacles which for her started at the age of eight, when one day she and her younger sister were picked up from school by Children’s Services and moved into foster care. Her biological mother was battling with mental illness and was no longer able to take care of Viva and her sister.
Since that day Viva has lived with a few different foster families and in a group home for a short period of time. The last foster parents Viva lived with have become her family and continue to support her. However, at 17 years old Viva made the decision to move out on her own and embrace her independence.
After trying to make it on her own, Viva recognized that she needed support. She was referred to Aspen’s Youth Transitions to Adulthood Program (YTA) and moved into our Semi-Independent Living Building. It took a while for Viva to fully trust the Aspen team, but with time she saw that they were truly there to support her. She then embraced the supports provided and began to excel in learning the life skills needed for independence. YTA helped her find a job and she is now providing for herself and paying her own rent. More importantly to Viva, through the budgeting skills learned in the program, she can also afford to stay in the Calgary Stampede Showband. This is something she is very passionate about and it has also expanded her ‘chosen family’, creating a network of support that she never thought she’d have.
Soon, Viva will be graduating from YTA to live on her own and pursue post-secondary education to become a social worker. She knows how hard it can be for a young person growing up in the system and she wants to help kids like her get through the tough times. Showing them that despite the challenges you face, there is always hope.
“If you want to do good, you also have to push yourself forward. So it's really nice that in this program I've gotten a lot stronger as an individual by the people around me.”