November 10, 2008
This week, we have a story written by Eric Savage, from Cowansville, Quebec. Eric is enrolled in literacy classes at Yamaska Literacy Council. After dropping out of school as a teen, Eric mixed with the wrong crowd and got into trouble with the law. He was drifting, but that changed when he began his literacy learning. His new skills gave him a sense of direction, and now he plans to finish school and take a welding course. He hopes his story will inspire others who want to turn their lives around.
When I was fourteen I was in Secondary two but soon after I was having trouble with my grades. The school’s social services suggested that I would be put in a program for slow learners called special Ed. It SUCKED! I was there for three years until I was too old for that class. I hadn’t learned very much because I didn’t do much work.
I was moved to the 16+ program which offered a high school leaving and job training. I lasted only about a year and a half in that class before dropping out of school. I was in Secondary three in that class. They found me a stage but I screwed it up by going in with a friend and stole from them... which was stupid. I got fired and nearly had the cops called on me.
I was hanging out with the wrong crowd and got mixed up in drugs and almost male prostitution because of my brother. I got in trouble with the law and got a sentence of three years probation. I was eighteen at the time, not a very mature age but we all make mistakes. I was living on the streets of Montreal.
Then I contacted a family on the south shore of Montreal where I stayed for three years. They tried to help me but I was too involved in drugs to the point where I was sick of life. I tried doing it on my own but didn’t get very far.
That year my sister and brother-in-law invited me over for Christmas. The next day they invited me to live with them. I had to abide by their rules in order to live there. My sister and brother-in-law encouraged me to go to school. I looked for financial help from Emplois Quebec and they referred me to Carrefour Jeunesse Program where I received a weekly cheque for my participation. These payments continued for two and a half months. Through them I heard about the Yamaska Literacy Council where I met my tutor Martha. The first time we met we talked about some of my goals and what I wanted to do in life. The goals we talked about were to get my learner’s permit and license. Another was to improve my reading and writing skills. I also wanted to get into a welding D.E.P. I hope to get a good paying job so I can buy a car.
[This story was taken with permission, from 2008 Recognition Awards for Adult Literacy - Submissions, published by the Centre for Literacy of Quebec.]