GRADUATING school is an important milestone for any child, but for a number of Coast schoolkids in particular, it's even more significant.
Last month, while their peers were heading off to schoolies and mucking up on the last days of school, 26 foster kids completing years six, 10 and 12 were recognised for their achievements in a special ceremony with child safety campaigner Denise Morecombe.
Many of the children, who must remain anonymous, had come from disadvantaged backgrounds, including personal illnesses and disabilities, abandonment and severely broken down families.
One 16-year-old had experienced difficulties studying due to severe headaches brought on by cysts on the back of her skull.
Another 17-year-old had been bumped around various foster families and homes since he was three years old, and said he was looking forward to embarking down one of many paths now open to him.
"I honestly never thought I'd make it this far,” he said.
With statistics indicating a below-average graduation rate for children in foster care, Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman said it was wonderful to see the hard work these kids had put in pay off as they moved on from their respective year levels.
"We know children in care often struggle with issues that can make learning harder for them,” she said.
"Today is about acknowledging those hard times and this fantastic milestone in these young people's lives.”
Denise Morecombe, who presented the graduation certificates, said it was a "fantastic” achievement for the kids.
"Hopefully some go on to TAFE or university and make better futures for themselves,” she said.
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