Discovering she was pregnant was the moment Darci decided to change her life.
“When I held Amber for the first time I thought, this is it. Amber is what matters. Everything I do now is to make sure my daughter can have a good life.
“I was 15 and hanging out in East Van, on the street corners, doing drugs, drinking, just not caring about myself. I was rebellious. I wanted to do whatever I felt like and didn’t see the consequences.
“Then suddenly I was going to have a baby and something big shifted in me. I just stopped all of that. I suddenly wanted to eat well and exercise and only hang around people who cared about me. But I didn’t know anything about how to do that. I didn’t know about prenatal care, or babies or being a mom.
“The hardest thing was opening up to accept help. I had so much pride. I was afraid to ask. When I did – everything changed. But I was lucky. I had people around who cared. My foster mom told me about the Parenting Program (at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary) and Emma’s (YWCA’s Early Learning and Care Centre). All I had to do was say yes and I was in.
“I never liked school before. I didn’t go much. But after having Amber I knew I had to have an education so I could give her a future. But I wouldn’t have been ok to go to school, to let go of her or do something like this for myself if I wasn’t sure Amber was getting good care. Every day I look out the window of my classroom and see her playing in the yard at Emma’s. When I see she’s happy and safe, I can focus on what I have to do.
“At first it was really hard. When I first started school, Amber was waking up at 6am and she still needed feeding throughout the night – every three hours – so I was cranky and tired. It was also hard because I was suddenly a different person. I was coming to terms with this and with the fact that I needed help and I needed to ask and reach out for it.
“At Emma’s I’m not judged and I get great advice and even help learning how to respond when someone on the bus says something mean about how young I am to have a baby.
“I’m 18 years-old now and next year I’ll have my high school diploma. Despite all my challenges, I’m moving ahead. I’ve got plans for the future and that’s something I didn’t expect.
“I care about myself now. I care for others. I didn’t care about family before. I didn’t want to see them. Now I’ve got a new perspective, a new way of looking at things. I see how much I need people and how much I care about people and I can feel how much they care for me and Amber. Then I can see how I can do more than survive. I can become something. I can shine.”
When we help others, our community is stronger. United Way of the Lower Mainland partners with the YWCA to help vulnerable children and families.