Former foster kids find support at UWinnipeg

 

NatashaMorrisonWEB

18-year old student Natasha Morrison is a promising athlete studying kinesiology

As students head back to school,  12 young people who used to be foster children will have a pathway into The University of Winnipeg with their tuition and expenses covered by UWinnipeg’s innovative Tuition Waiver Program for youth raised in care.

In March 2012, The University of Winnipeg launched a trial program unique in Canada which has since been emulated by a number of other post-secondary institutions across the country, to ensure that youth who have grown up in foster care can dream about and plan for their academic future regardless of socio-economic background.  Last year, 22 students participated at UWinnipeg and this September 2013, 12 more students are enrolled, including 18-year old Natasha Morrison.

Natasha is a promising athlete who plays competitive badminton with Team Manitoba and hopes to be selected to train for the Canada Winter Games in Prince George in 2015. She grew up in and out of foster care in several small communities in Manitoba, including Reston and Gladstone, where she graduated from high school. She has five younger brothers and one younger sister.

“I was really excited when my social worker found about the tuition waiver program, because it means I don’t have to worry about funds and can focus on studies and badminton,” said Natasha. ‘I never really thought I would get this far, because the statistics are against me as a foster kid and not having a lot of influences to help me. Now hopefully I will be a role model for my siblings.”

Natasha is studying in UWinnipeg’s Faculty of Kinesiology and is interested in a career in athletic therapy. She hopes to work part time this winter coaching younger badminton players.

Under the program, UWinnipeg waives tuition and the Province of Manitoba child welfare authorities cover living expenses for youth on extensions of care, including housing, textbooks and meal plans, up until age 21. There are more than 9,500 children and youth in care in Manitoba. The majority are First Nations and Metis, and it is estimated that in the past, less than 5% ever pursued a post-secondary education.

UWinnipeg supports the program through active fundraising and private donations to the Opportunity Fund, which seeks specifically to support Indigenous students, new Canadians and refugees, and students from inner-city neighbourhoods, through fast-track bursaries, tuition credits and the tuition waiver program. As of May 2013, the Opportunity Fund has raised $2.9 million and 1,158 fast track bursaries have been awarded to students in financial need, supporting 238 graduates to date.

Get more information on the Tuition Waiver program.

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MEDIA CONTACT

Diane Poulin, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg

P: 204.988.7135, E: d.poulin@uwinnipeg.ca

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