23-year-old mother of two beats addiction to graduate from high school this spring
Camille Jensen

VANCOUVER – Eight-month old Payton is gurgling in the background as his mother tells an inspiring story about perseverance and inner strength. The 23-year-old mother of two is on track to receive her high-school diploma this spring. Her boyfriend is now a drugs and addiction counsellor, and the two have a goal of owning their own house.

But 3 1/2 years ago, Kayla Nelson was in a very different space. She drank often, leaving her first child in the care of others. She was in an unhealthy relationship with her son’s father, who had addiction problems, and she would stay at friends’ homes for weeks at a time to get away from him.

Realizing her former boyfriend was hindering her growth and that of their son’s, she made a decision to ask him to leave once and for all.

It wasn’t long after she met Peter. The relationship was rocky at first, as the two drank together.

Remembering back to this point in her life, Kayla recalls feeling lost. She didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life, or if she ever wanted to have a job.

Then something changed.

“I think I just had enough with the life that I had,” recalls Kayla, who has been sober for two years now.

As a couple, she and Peter decided to quit drinking and get their lives on track. There have been ups and downs on the journey, but Kayla credits her own strength and the support of Peter, who is always there for her and loves her no matter what.

Throughout it all Sabi Ghangheri has also been there. As a posAbilities host family, Sabi, along with his wife and children, live above Kayla and he is there to offer her support and guidance when needed.

Kayla says the relationship with Sabi has been beneficial, especially for questions on parenting or support during the holidays.

“Sabi is always around for the birthdays, Christmas, everyday he’s checking in,” she says. “He’s like my dad.”

Having worked with many young adults, Sabi says Kayla’s journey “sticks out like a diamond.”  He credits Kayla for sticking to her guns when tested. He remembers her old friends trying to coax her back to her past lifestyle. Talking about this with her, she was able to recognize the ulterior motive and distance herself from them.

It’s for these reasons and others Sabi commends Kayla on her achievement.

“It’s just all positive. It’s unbelievable how they are doing it. She makes all of us involved proud,” says Sabi.

While Kayla is still unsure about what she plans to do after she graduates, she’s considering more education to become a counsellor and support children and youth who have been sexually abused.

For others who may have an opportunity to receive similar support in a host family environment, Kayla recommends they keep an open mind.

“I think if you do come into a home like this, don’t come in with a negative attitude,” she says, recalling how she did not want to move into a home where people would be checking in on her.

“When it comes down to it, if you don’t have family that is really close you need that person to be there for you and help you.”

If you have feedback on this article, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, or e-mail camille(at)axiomnews.ca.