It’s not every day you get to spend a morning playing football with Rashad Johnson and Justin Bethel – two safeties from the Arizona Cardinals. But Tarqui isn’t your average teenager, either.
“They taught me how to always keep my head up and don’t say ‘can’t.’ Don’t let nobody say you can’t and don’t tell yourself you can’t, because you can always do something,” said Tarqui, 17.
He has been in foster care since 2007 and currently lives and attends school at a group home.
Playing professional football is a dream of Tarqui’s. The once in a lifetime experience with the Cardinal’s players taught Tarqui that dreams are achievable with hard work and determination, he said.
“They taught me a lot of stuff from their life experiences that they accomplished their goals,” he said. “Sometimes they got upset a little bit, but they still kept going and they got better at it – and that’s what I try to do. I’m going to take that in so I can be the best. So I can be the best Tarqui.”
Tarqui has moved homes and schools often during his time in care and has struggled to find his place, said Bryant Newman, his CPS case manager.
“The thing for him is, it’s hard for him because he might not see the progress right now, but everybody else does. And it’s just reassuring him that it’s a process and that he’s made progress,” Newman said. “One of the biggest things is, he’s had issues going AWOL and running away, but he hasn’t done that in the last year. We need to find a family for him or someone that will take care of him and keep him safe.”
Tarqui is a good kid who likes sports, music and church.
“I’m Christian, but I like to go to any kind of church. I feel like it’s good there and that they talk about good stuff,” he said. “I know I don’t pray and everything before I go to bed, but when I’m sad I kinda do pray. I wish I could go home soon.”
Tarqui said he would prefer a Caucasian family because, “I want them to be nice and not have the life I had growing up.”
A family for Tarqui could take any shape, but the key element would be support, Newman said.
“If it’s just a mom, if it’s just a dad, if it’s a big family with siblings – as long as there’s someone there, a constant reassurance and telling him that everything’s going to be OK, that’s what he needs,” Newman said.
For more information about Tarqui, please contact AASK at (602) 930-4900 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.