My Name Is… And This is My Story

Ever since I was young, I knew I wasn’t like the other kids. I always felt alone and had no one to talk to. When you’re growing up with an obvious physical disability and then add an invisible disability, you can’t help but feel isolated and alone.

 When I was 13 years old, I learned I was HIV positive. I was at SickKids, a regular occurrence for me, but this time felt different. My dad, a social worker and my doctor were all in the room and there was an awkward tension. It felt warm and everyone was looking at me, it seemed like I did something wrong, but I didn’t know what. I started to smile and laugh a little as you do when you feel a bit awkward. It was uncomfortable, and I didn’t know what to do.

 Then the social worker asked me “Why do you think you take medication? Do you understand why you come to SickKids?” I said, “Yah, isn’t it obvious? For my legs, right?” There was a long pause, I felt like I had failed a test I didn’t know I was taking. Then, they asked me if I knew what HIV was. I remember having a puzzled look on my face, almost the same look I got when solving a rubix cube for the first time. It wasn’t just my face, all of me was puzzled. I looked at my Dad, then my doctor, then the social worker. They told me I come to SickKids because I am HIV positive. Like most kids would, I turned to my Dad, knowing he would have the answers, but he didn’t make eye contact with me. Was he scared too? Was he embarrassed? I didn’t understand.

 Next, they jumped into what it all meant. It felt like they were giving me so much information at once that I blanked it all out. I didn’t know what to say or do, I just went… numb. One of the craziest things I remember is that I went back to school right after. My life changed in an instant, and I was back in a classroom with a bunch of kids who had no idea.

 As a 13-year-old, how do you understand and manage such a massive change? It was hard. Fast forward 3 years and I’m 16 years old. Everything was going wrong in my life. I was feeling depressed. Spending a lot of time thinking about my Mom (she passed away when I was young) trying to understand the things HIV made me feel. I turned to unhealthy coping mechanisms, I started smoking hoping it would help me, but it never did. I started eating more and gained a lot of weight. I felt like I had no one to talk to. I was alone again. Who could understand this?

 Then, I was told about The Teresa Group. They had a group for youth who were affected by HIV called Leading the Way. I figured why not? Maybe I could find some people who could get what I am going through. I thought maybe there is hope and I could find my people.

 At first, I found it hard to open up. They were brand new to me, I didn’t know them, and I didn’t know if they would judge me or not, even if we had this one thing in common. It didn’t take long for me to realize that Leading the Way was a safe space to share whatever I needed to share. In one way or another, we found ways to relate to and support each other.

 Now, they are my tribe. I love them and the friendships we have built. They are the ones I really trust, and I know that I can safely say anything to them. The biggest thing we could share with each other has been shared and is out of the way. We can focus on where to go from here. I have left my self-destructive acts in the past, and I feel better than ever.

 Now, I am 17. I have been through three Leading the Way Groups, I got to attend Summer Camp as a counsellor in training, I have stood up in front a group of strangers and shared my experience at The Teresa Group Annual General Meeting. I have found my community. Life isn’t perfect, but I know I am not facing it alone. 

 Here’s a way that I have found to explain things that have happened in my life. If God sat every human down at this huge poker table to play this large game called Life, and he shuffled the deck and gave out the cards, some people would be extremely lucky and get handed double aces or kings and queens, then others, like me, would get twos and threes, trying and failing to win one hand. I would think “why would God put me in this terrible spot only holding on to a couple of chips?”. I’ve figured it out. He would tell me to keep pushing and find a way to beat everyone in the game. With The Teresa Group having my back, I’m the real winner.              

 Donate today to support youth and programs like this.

 To be eligible for a 2018 charitable tax receipt, donations must be made by midnight, December 31st.

 Cheques can be made out to The Teresa Group and sent to:

 The Teresa Group
124 Merton Street, Suite 104
Toronto, M4S 2Z2
Attn: Kelly

 To donate online, click HERE, or donate through CANADA HELPS

Featured News

Latest Newsletter

Our  Fall 2018 Newsletter is now online
 Catch up on all our news, announcements and upcoming events

Strategic plan

Download our strategic plan
Strategic Plan
(Adobe PDF File)
OFFICE HOURS
We are pleased offer extended hours on Tuesdays. Some parents work 9-5 hours and were finding it difficult to access us during our regular hours. We heard your requests and on Tuesdays we will be open from 11am to 7pm.

OFFICE HOURS
Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays    9am to 5pm
Tuesdays          11am to 7pm
Fridays 9am to 2pm

ACCESS TO HEALTH AND HIV INFORMATION
If you need immediate assistance and referral, please call the Sexual Health Infoline Ontario (SHILO) at:
1-800-668-2437
Toronto: 416-392-2437

For HIV education and treatment related content, please visit the CATIE website

Ontario's HIV Directory for Newcomers can be found at Hello Ontario

Visit the ConnexOntario website for 24/7 access to health services information

HIV Resources Ontario is an online navigation tool to make materials and resources created by HIV Resources Ontario available to ASOs across Ontario.

 

Past Events

This year we celebrated the 20th anniversary of The Mane Event - a Hairstyling and Beauty Extravaganza in support of The Teresa Group. We also welcomed our new event sponsor, Redken Canada

The event took place at the L’Oreal Academy at 20 Richmond Street East from 10am to 4pm

Volunteer stylists washed, cut and styled – all to support children living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.

Not only did we offer salon services at the event, but there was also a large silent auction packed with incredible items, a raffle with prizes such as an iPad mini, valuable jewelry and a large Redken product gift bag with over 40 items. Volunteers from MAC Cosmetics offered make up sessions. The day is a buzz of activity and fun and clients left feeling wonderful – inside and out.

The Mane Event committee was led by Heidi and Stracey, our long-time supporters who are the co-owners of LIFT Salon and Spa. 

READ MORE ABOUT RAFFLE PRIZES ....

Chrissie Cameron-Boshart Memorial Dinner


The 15th Chrissie Cameron-Boshart Memorial Dinner took place on Thursday October 13th 2016 at the Eagle's Nest Golf Club, Maple, Ontario.
It was an exciting evening with a  lot of energy around the live and silent auctions. Olympian Brendon Rodney and Paralympian Tess Routliffe were the special guests who engaged the crowd with their wonderful and inspiring stories.
Thank you to the Cameron family and the incredible event team of volunteers who once again did us proud!

Children and HIV: Equity Now! reaching all children in the epidemic

The symposium entitled Children and HIV: Equity Now! - Reaching all children in the epidemic hosted by The Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS and The Teresa Group took place in Durban, South Africa on Friday July 15th and Saturday July 16th 2016, preceding the AIDS 2016 21st International AIDS Conference.

Over 360 people from 30 countries registered for the two exciting days. Service providers, donors, researchers, advocates and policy leaders debated and explored emerging evidence and promising programs, and identified the issues and the children who most need our support.

For more information and to find the final program and PowerPoint speaker presentations, please go to the symposium website.


Imagine

The Teresa Group Achieves Accreditation from Imagine Canada’s Standard Program

May 31st 2016 – The Teresa Group today announces that it has been accredited under Imagine Canada’s national Standards Program. With this achievement, we join a growing community of more than 175 organizations dedicated to operational excellence.

The Standards Program is a Canada-wide set of shared standards for charities and nonprofits designed to strengthen practices in five fundamental areas: board governance; financial accountability and transparency; fundraising; staff management; and volunteer involvement.

“We are thrilled to be recognized for our commitment to accountability, transparency and good governance” says Board President, Marcel Watier.

“It’s no small feat for an organization to earn Standards Program accreditation,” says Bruce MacDonald, President and CEO of Imagine Canada. “It’s a rigorous, peer-reviewed process that is meant to build public trust and confidence in the charitable sector. These organizations take accountability and operational transparency very seriously. We’re glad to have them on board.”

Investment in Donor Trust

The goals of Imagine Canada’s Standards Program are to increase the transparency of charities and nonprofits, and to strengthen public confidence in individual organizations and the sector as a whole. Trust is the foundation for what matters to us, our stakeholders and those who support us. Accredited organizations invest in what matters: trust.

Transparent, peer-review process

Our policies and procedures in the five areas of compliance were evaluated by a group of volunteers from the sector, and were found to be compliant with the Standards Program.

“As a small organization, rooted in the community, we recognize how important it is to be accountable not only to our donors but also to the children and families we work with and the partners who share our vision and mission” says Executive Director, Nicci Stein.