Tanesha was born in Buffalo Lake and moved to Edmonton as a small child. “My early life was okay,” she recalls. “I lived with my family and my siblings, but my mom and dad really weren’t there for me much and I moved in and out of foster homes.” That instability made it hard for her to purse her passion for art and music, but she always dreamed of a future that included the arts. “It was what I enjoyed the most.”
By the time she was in her teens, she was living in a group home and struggling with schooling. “One of my youth workers told me about Kids in the Hall and that’s how I found out about the café.”
Although she’s only a few weeks into the e4c program, she’s already found it life changing. “It’s been a fun experience, I’ve learned a lot of cooking skills, knife skills and kitchen skills.” She’s also developed a confidence that allows her to help share what she knows with other students in the program.
“Tanesha was very shy at first,” explains Jackie Parks, a youth worker with the program. “You could see she was timid talking to people, but in a pretty short period of time she’s become confident in what she’s doing and now she’s teaching others…it’s amazing to see that confidence come to life. You can see that look on her face when she’s explaining things to others that she feels good about it.”
As Tanesha looks ahead, she has set her sights on further education that will allow her to pursue her passion for the arts.
“I know it seems weird, because I’m doing stuff with food here, but I’d love to go to university to study music and art.”
Jackie explains that she’s in awe of kids like Tanesha, who’ve overcome a lot of barriers before they even begin they program. “To see kids like Tanesha find their passion and their confidence, and watch them transition to employment or post-secondary, you see them become their own person. And you can tell they’re excited about what the future holds now.”