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Courage to Come Back: Youth recipient pushes for more transparency in foster care system

Last Updated Jul 30, 2020 at 8:00 am PDT

Andrew Teel is one of Coast Mental Health's Courage to Come Back Month award recipients. (Courtesy Coast Mental Health)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Andrew Teel had a rough start in life. Born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and traumatized by the foster care system, the 18-year-old found his “forever family” on his own one day.

“I was in the line-up for kindergarten and I saw that she was hugging a lot of these children and I went up to her and asked her for a hug,” he explains.

“She” is Sandy Teel, a then-daycare provider who Andrew now calls mom.

“He was just this little boy who walked up and asked me some questions and asked for a hug,” recalls Sandy. “So, I looked around to see if there was any parent watching and I didn’t see anyone, so I gave him a hug.”

Andrew’s Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and PTSD presented plenty of challenges growing up.

“Definitely, at the beginning, it was really hard for me to get stuff done like fine motor skill stuff or hand-eye coordination stuff,” he says.

Listen to John Ackermann’s interview with Andrew and Sandy Teel:

However, Sandy says he never let that stop him.

“Andrew’s always been really, really determined, so, if he couldn’t do something, he would just keep trying and trying and trying again.”

Andrew, who was left traumatized by a particularly bad foster home placement, doesn’t want another child to end up like he did.

He’s calling for “more screening on the people who are actually running the foster homes and stuff … and when you get transferred from different foster cares, especially with my case, I was never told why I was moved, so I always thought it was my fault.”

Andrew, the 2020 Courage To Come Back award recipient in the Youth category, also advocates for the disadvantaged among us, from fundraising for Covenant House to making stockings for the homeless.

“If you put in the hours and figure out your own way of learning stuff, then you can do great things and be really successful.”

NEWS 1130 is a proud sponsor of Coast Mental Health’s Courage to Come Back Awards, one of the largest fundraising events of its kind in Western Canada. COVID-19 has drastically impacted funding for Coast Mental Health and many services have been forced to close down to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. This year, instead of a singular event, Coast Mental Health is dedicating the month of July to Courage and the five extraordinary recipients who have overcome adversity to give back to their community. Every Thursday in July, NEWS 1130 will profile a recipient on-air and online. For more information or to make a donation, please visit couragetocomeback.ca.