Sarah Hendricks’ son was born 22 days after my own, but that is where our similarities end and where my admiration for her begins.
We all have different beginnings and Sarah’s was fraught with immense hardship. The 20-year-old says during the first six years of her life, she and her siblings lived with parents addicted to crack cocaine in Vancouver.
“I remember our parents fighting a lot. There was a lot of abuse between my parents and a lot of drugs all the time. A lot of people we didn’t know taking care of us,” she said. “A lot of time it was my older sister trying to help us out but she’s only a year older than me so it’s not like she could do much.”
Watch Below: Sarah Hendricks grew up with drug addicts for parents, and as a teen found herself homeless and fighting the same battle. Coming from that kind of chaos, she never imagined she would be graduating from high school, much less be nominated for an award of excellence. Sarah joined Global News Morning to talk about how becoming a mother and receiving the support of her caseworker helped turn her life around.
Sarah and her siblings were eventually apprehended from their parents’ care and placed with their grandmother in Spruce Grove, Alberta. From there, she lived with a family from their church and then an aunt in Saskatchewan. At 16 years old, she ran away with her boyfriend after experiencing anxiety and depression.
“I was contemplating suicide a lot when I lived there so running away felt like my only option.”
When the money ran out, Sarah’s boyfriend returned to Saskatchewan and she landed at a youth homeless shelter in Edmonton. After a week, she started experimenting with hard drugs.
“After I started testing them out, I just didn’t stop.”
Meth became her drug of choice. For about a year and a half, she was addicted.
“I was mostly selling drugs. I would do crime…steal from vehicles that were unlocked or steal from stores, steal from other people – I would panhandle for money and then there were a few times that I would trade for money, sexually,” Sarah said.
Two events changed the course of her life. The first was a police raid on the drug house she had been living in.
“I felt like my life was right in front of me; that I knew what my future was if I stayed in that lifestyle and it wasn’t good. You know, I could have gone to jail that night for a very, very long time.”
The second life-changing experience happened in the spring of 2014, when Sarah discovered she was pregnant. She quit meth immediately.
It was a difficult transition but with the support of a dedicated partner and a determined social worker, Sarah found a safe place to live and enrolled at Braemar School. In partnership with the Terra Centre, the school offers supports like child care for teens who are pregnant or parenting. The setup allowed her to excel with honours grades. On June 10, Sarah graduates and is hosting the ceremony for more than 50 students and their families.
“When I was at my lowest point, you’re just hoping to make it to the next day, not make it to graduation.”
Sarah plans to attend MacEwan University this fall, where she will pursue social work in an effort to help others who have experienced the kind of trauma and obstacles she’s managed to overcome. She is already volunteering for social agencies in Edmonton and caring for her son Samuel, a busy and curious little toddler.
“He’s like my angel, really.”
Sarah credits her son for changing the course of her life. There’s no question he was a catalyst, but she made it happen. I hope Friday night when she stands in the spotlight at graduation, she realizes how many of us stand in awe of her.