For the last six years, Global Edmonton has been raising money for the Alberta Cancer Foundation through its annual wardrobe sale.
When we reached the $100,000 milestone, we decided to switch gears and find a new cause.
Our Global Edmonton wardrobe sale now supports Terra Centre. Below, you can read about Kathleen Donaldson, a young, single mom who opened up about the challenges of raising her daughter while trying to complete high school.
Watch below: Check out all of the items available at Saturday’s sale!
The sale is open to the public and takes place on Saturday, April 14 from noon to 2 p.m. at Global Edmonton (5325 Allard Way).
Kathleen Donaldson isn’t your typical teenager. She’s up every morning at 6:30, no exception. Her 10-month-old daughter Melody needs to be fed, changed and dressed. Then it’s out the door for the one-hour bus ride to school.
Donaldson is a 19-year-old mother focused on finishing high school. Her determination is inspiring but she admits being a teenager, burdened with adult responsibilities, isn’t easy.
“It’s just been so overwhelming to the point where sometimes I just sit down and cry … and breathe.”
She’s raising her daughter all on her own, with little support. Aside from her dad, the rest of her family lives in Medicine Hat.
“Teenagers don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night, their babies screaming and trying to figure out what’s wrong with them, and changing dirty diaper after dirty diaper after dirty diaper.”
Donaldson is one of about 120 students who attend Braemar School. The site is devoted to helping pregnant and parenting teens complete their high school diploma. The building is connected to the Terra Centre, a grassroots organization that offers wrap-around services to young parents.
“If I come in and I just need to talk to somebody, there’s always somebody to talk to — about anything! Even if it’s just, ‘Oh my gosh, she got her first tooth.'”
Watch below: Take a tour inside Edmonton’s Terra Centre
Young moms attend class in one part of the building, while their children — mostly infants — are in daycare just down the hall. Being close is extremely convenient for both mom and baby.
“If I’m not having a good day at school, if I bombed a test, one of the first things I do is come here and I hold her and play with her. Just seeing her smiling face just makes me so much happier.”
Bringing services on site is also important so moms don’t have to miss school. There’s a pediatrician, a dental hygienist and an immunization nurse who visit the site regularly. There’s also a donation store where the moms can help themselves to baby clothes or new toys.
Perhaps the most essential service is access to counselling. About 90 per cent of parenting teens have experienced trauma in their lives.
“Domestic violence, mental health abuse, neglect,” Terra Centre executive director Karen Mottershead said.
“They are young people that, in their early years, perhaps did not receive the kind of emotional support or care that was important for them.”
And now as teenage parents, they also have to deal with discrimination in the community.
“They talk about riding on the bus as one of the most challenging things. Or being in a lineup at Safeway.
“The judgement and the perceptions that people place on them is very devastating on their self-esteem and their self-worth,” Mottershead said.
“On one hand, they’re trying to do the right things, make the right decisions, and on the other hand, the community is looking at them through a very judgemental lens.”
Watch below: How Edmonton’s Terra Centre supports pregnant and parenting teens
The Terra Centre is all about changing those perceptions; it’s about focusing on the teens’ potential, not their pregnancy.
That’s exactly what Donaldson is doing. Her goal is to become a psychologist. And little Melody is her motivation to turn that goal into a reality.
“I want to make sure my daughter has a good life. She’s the love of my life.”