International Day of Happiness!

20 03 2017

The United Nations established March 20th as International Day of Happiness to “recognize the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world.” The day has been celebrated since 2013. For this year, the UN chose those lovable blue Smurfs of cartoon fame to promote its 17 sustainable development goals on the International Day of Happiness. The “Small Smurfs Big Goals” campaign is designed to encourage young people everywhere to learn about and support the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Happiness + sustainable development? Seems a winning combination sure to make even the grumpiest Smurf smile. Oh, and it’s also the first official day of Spring. Now there’s something to be happy about!

smurfs





Thanks! Journeys of Change Wins $25,000 SpecKids Change Challenge

14 01 2015

SpecKidsIf you were voting, a very big thank you! The Journeys of Change theatre project, an initiative of the Community Child Abuse Council, came out the winner of the $25,000 prize from the Hamilton Spectator’s SpecKids Change Challenge. The project will bring to life the stories and experiences of newcomer students in an educational and inspiring effort to build understanding and cultural awareness in our community. High school students across the region will see the production, and participating students (writing, design, production, staging, acting) will gain credit for their contributions.

The Council’s OASIS Program offers specialized supports and counseling for immigrant and refugee children, youth, and their families who are experiencing trauma symptoms or significant acculturation stress. An extension of the program has counselors working to to provide accessible support on-site within schools with the greatest number of newcomer students. These services are limited at this time, but remove some of the barriers that otherwise make it difficult for refugee students to access mental health supports.

Thanks to the Hamilton Spectator, SpecKids Unlimited, and the Change Challenge, the program can now extend further by involving newcomer students in a creative endeavour that builds community and helps to integrate and embrace our newest members.





Journeys of Change youth theatre project needs support

9 11 2014

VOTING CONTINUES ‘TIL NOVEMBER 30th – PLEASE KEEP UP YOUR SUPPORT! THANK YOU!

An innovative youth theatre project, Journeys of Change, has been selected as one of five finalists in the 2014 SpecKids Change Challenge (with a $25,000 prize). The project was submitted by the Community Child Abuse Council of Canada and is an extension of its OASIS Program – addressing the unique mental health needs of refugee and immigrant children, youth, and their families who are experiencing symptoms of trauma or serious acculturation difficulties. The project aims to share the stories of newcomer students through theatre, giving voice to their often difficult journeys and reinforcing messages of cultural understanding.

Voting begins on Monday, November 10th and closes on November 30th. Individuals may vote up to 5 times daily to support the project by going to the SpecKids web site: http://www.speckids.ca/change-challenge/finalists/details/community-child-abuse-council

The finalist with the most votes wins, so please consider supporting this worthwhile project – vote, vote daily, and encourage others to do the same. Thank you.

journeys





Child Abuse Prevention Month

1 10 2014

October once again marks Child Abuse Prevention month here in Ontario, and sadly not much has changed since last year at this time. The pending transformation of children’s mental health by the provincial government promises to bring improvements, and we wait and watch for those with significant hopes.

In the meantime, the United Nations has released two new reports – Hidden In Plain Sight: A statistical analysis of violence against children (with global figures and data from 190 countries), and Ending Violence Against Children: Six strategies for action (with case studies from around the globe). Both are part of UNICEF’s #ENDviolence against children initiative.

You can find copies of both reports here: http://www.unicef.org/protection/

endviolenceThis month, as you consider the state of the world’s children, please remember that right here at home 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually victimized before their 18th birthday. We absolutely must change that. Let your elected representatives at all levels of government know that you consider this to be a vital issue. Speak up for additional resources to be invested in child abuse prevention and treatment, and encourage others to do the same.





Unacceptable realities…points to ponder

29 08 2014

Something more personal for this post…an update after a considerable hiatus from blogging. I blame Facebook, in part, because of the distraction it provided to this newby. It took several months to discover what I really wanted to get from the site, and how to make my participation meaningful. But it has been my busy professional life that has taken most of my time and attention. Always rewarding, at times frustrating, ever changing, it both commands my full attention while I’m “in it” and necessitates downtime that is just that.

The sexual abuse of children continues to make headlines, along with these same crimes against women. Issues of gender inequality, gender-based violence, exploitation, pornography, cyber bullying, rape culture, sexting, and the debate over the educational curriculum for sexuality and human relations have become so commonplace in news reports that I worry we are numbing to their seriousness. And, on most days, I am hard-pressed to understand how these vitally important issues are not front and centre in our political and public policy discussions. These very issues are the bedrock of my work, each and every day. I notice the headlines, pay attention to the news coverage, am saddened by the disclosures, and outraged by the appalling lack of change. These constant reminders of the work still to be done creep into my off-work hours, make regular appearances in my dreams, and urge me onward. No, I am not obsessed or inappropriately burdened by these unacceptable realities. I manage to keep a healthy (most days) balance. But these remain unacceptable realities.

A friend told me recently that there was a disturbing pattern to many of my posts on Facebook. He said he understood why so many of my posts related to the issues that relate to my professional work, but he “just couldn’t read all of them” and found many of them “too disturbing”. And, sadly, I know he’s not the only one.

So, by way of updating this blog and sharing what has been keeping me busy of late, here are a few points to ponder:

  • today, here in my own community (as in many others), 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be sexually victimized before their 18th birthday
  • in Hamilton, the city I am so proud to live in, overall violent crime has decreased but not sexual crimes against women and children or child pornography
  • the agency I lead, the Community Child Abuse Council, employs the equivalent of 3.2 full-time staff and a team of consulting clinicians who provide direct trauma treatment to children and youth experiencing the trauma that results from sexual abuse – we have a perpetual wait list
  • we also work to address the unique mental health needs of immigrant and refugee children and youth who are experiencing symptoms of trauma – from war-torn countries, experiences in refugee camps, violence, loss, and upheaval – there is a waiting list for this program too
  • we turn every dollar provided by government towards these services into $1.70 – in blunt terms, we spend a significant amount of time and energy raising money to serve the children who need our help, and on any given day the provision of these crucial services may well depend on bake sales and raffles
  • the Council has an incredibly generous circle of supporters with whom I am in regular contact  – their commitment to making sure these essential services are available to youngsters in our community is beyond admirable, yet they are but a tiny proportion of the caring population in Hamilton

children_threatsI share these points not to claim any undue burden or regret – I love the work I am doing and I could not be more committed to this cause. I share these points for consideration by people like my friend who bristled at the content of my posts on Facebook. Or for any readers of this blog who may have wondered why I had been absent of late. I share them because it is important to me that the nature of the Council’s work be understood – an entire community’s response to the sexual abuse of children and youth is resting almost exclusively on the shoulders of one small agency. How fortunate we are to have an exceptionally specialized and seasoned clinical team of experts doing this work. How wonderful it is to know that this agency is accomplishing great things on a daily basis thanks to the tireless efforts of staff who care deeply and volunteers who are passionate. How reassuring to know that the Board of Directors at the Council is comprised of individuals with integrity, careful stewards of public funds, and diligent ambassadors for a cause far too often overshadowed.

Yes, many days I am tired. And I do get frustrated. But I continue to give my all to this remarkable organization and the youngsters it serves because the work we are doing is making a difference. Every day I see the results of treatment programs that are effective. And every day I am fortunate to be around some of the bravest young people you’ll ever meet. They are what matters. Helping them to get beyond the trauma, heal and move forward, that is what counts. We believe thriving children create thriving communities, so everything we do to help our young clients get back on track is ultimately an investment in the future of our community. That inspires me, that commands my attention, and that keeps me focused.

If you find me posting a recipe or a travel link on Facebook, you’ll know it’s been an especially good day.

Postcript:

To date, the most-searched phrase that lands visitors here on my web site is “children girls porn”. Sadly ironic, and another reason for this important work to not only continue but to knock it out of the park. You can help – have a conversation, share resources, point others towards these issues, support the work that is so important to ensuring our youngest community members can go on to be thriving, contributing future leaders.





CAPPY: Child Abuse Prevention and Protection of Youth

12 07 2014

Tomorrow, Sunday July 13th, marks the 23rd annual CAPPY Ride to raise funds for the programs and services offered by the Community Child Abuse Council. At the moment, it looks entirely possible the ride will be a damp one. But the motorcycle community supporting this event comes out for the cause moreso than the ride itself. Yes, it’s a popular, police escorted scenic route and a tremendous show of 2-wheel (and sometimes more) camaraderie. But those who come out know

that the ride wouldn’t happen if we didn’t need to do more for children and youth who are sexually abused – more treatment, more education, more prevention. They know that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys are sexually victimized before reaching their 18th birthdays. And they know that too many youngsters, some as young as 3 years, wait far too long for trauma treatment after experiencing sexual abuse.Entering my third year with the Council, one of development and bold planning

A tip of the hat to all those who ride for this important and worthwhile cause. And a shout out to the many amazing volunteers, sponsors, donors, and musicians who make the event such a tremendous success year after year.

Registration and breakfast start at 8:30 am at the Ancaster Fairgrounds. All are welcome.

For details, visit www.cappyride.ca

cappy





Children’s Mental Health Week

4 05 2014

Children’s mental health is important every day, all year long. But one week is set aside annually to focus on children’s mental health issues and awareness, and that week is May 4-10 this year. Take a moment to think about the many challenges, circumstances, conditions, illnesses, traumas, experiences, and other factors that can contribute to the mental health problems facing so many children. Then ask yourself what our community, our society, would be like if all children were happy, healthy and thriving…and what will we need to do to make that happen? child mental health week