Friday, November 28, 2008

Building a Better Future

Over the years I have met and enjoyed chatting to numerous women entrepreneurs, all at different stages in their business, but driven by a passion to succeed, but none can compare with the dream Terri Smith has for her social enterprise.

When I first met Terri she was opening a private school for teens who, for a variety of reasons, didn’t fit into the mainstream educational system. Commendable work, and with a successful campus launched and underway, it would have been all too easy for Terri to sit back and coast.

But no. She saw that there was a glaring need for alternative education for youth whose parents could not afford the high fees, for families that have only known poverty, welfare and disadvantage. She wanted those students to have an opportunity to shine.

This week I visited Terri’s latest campus, located in a humble area of Hamilton. I met some of the students who for the first time in their lives felt they belonged; that someone cared about them, and who were succeeding on their own terms.

Terri offers a wide range of programs, from LINK for new Canadians to Women in the Skilled Trades, a pre-apprenticeship program for young women considering a career in the trades. And she has big dreams – of creating a vocational school that offers students the opportunity to realize their potential – be it through culinary training, picture framing or other practical hands-on, transferable skills.

I left feeling inspired and in total awe of the task Terri has set for herself, but she seems undaunted and you get the feeling, no matter what, her dream will come true. To learn more about AAT School, and how you can help – check the website at

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