NEXT STEP SUCCESS!
Life is a roller coaster: you can either scream every time you hit a bump, or you can throw your hands up in the air and enjoy it.
For some young people, their transition from care can feel like the slow, apprehensive crawl up the lift hill – the highest point of a roller coaster – followed by the dramatic plummet, which takes them tumbling through the rest of the circuit.
Ashley went into care at fifteen years of age, which makes him part of the minority age bracket of young people who enter out-of-home-care. A modest 10% of children and young people entering care Australia-wide fall into the age bracket of 15-17 years of age.
Despite a turbulent adolescence, Ashley is a gregarious, generous, go-getter kind of young man. Throughout all the ups and downs of his transition from care, Ashley remains filled with aspirations for a better future. His favourite pastime is to visit Gold Coast theme parks – Ashley has been to Movie World more than one hundred times.
Ashley was put in touch with Next Step After Care through Disability Services at Beenleigh.
“My next step worker is pretty cool, pretty awesome. Very cool worker,” Ashley says with enthusiasm.
Next Step After Care has made a huge effort to provide Ashley with assistance to ensure he enjoys the ride of adulthood.
Ashley had an expenses paid trip to the Darling Downs region of Queensland, to spend well-deserved time with his family. The commute was paid for by Next Step After Care, as connections with family and community are an important service that Next Step After Care facilitates.
However, Ashley is unable to regularly visit his extended family because of the distance and travel time that separates them.
Next Step After Care and Ashley decided it would be an invaluable life asset for Ashley to obtain his license and gain independence over his movement and travel.
Ashley says, “I liked they [Next Step After Care] got me into driving lessons, got me a log book, and my driving hours have gone up. It’s very exciting.”
The application process for attaining a learners license; preparing with a log book, and booking driving lessons took six weeks, from start to finish.
Despite having a daunting first lesson – “It was pretty scary! My driving instructor took me on the highway first go,” he laughs – Ashley remains stoic that he will complete his one hundred driving hours in an automatic car.
In fact, Ashley is so determined to get his license he has taken initiative to contact PCYC’s Braking the Cycle program with the hopes of using their services to get the most driving practice possible.
“I can’t wait to be able to pick up my girlfriend and my friends when they are bored on holidays. It’ll be good to see my family in Toowoomba when I get the chance to. Driving is scarier than the Scooby Doo ride, but it’s still really fun!”
Ashley’s positive life outlook even extends to the advice he has for care leavers: “If you are seventeen you should talk to the Department [of Child Safety] and figure out what your best opportunities are. And what the best outcome will be after that.”
He also wants to express his helpful experiences with Next Step After Care and Life Without Barriers – two services that have been constantly available to encourage Ashley.
“Child Safety should say, ‘have you heard of Next Step?’ before someone turns eighteen,” he explains.
Next Step After Care would like to thank Ashley for lending his voice to raising awareness about Next Step After Care, and wish him best of luck and safe travels with his driving lessons.