A Place to Belong

10 07 2017

The annual report from the Hamilton Community Foundation is always a welcome read, and this year was no exception. Once again, the report’s pages highlight important investments and remarkable impact happening across the Hamilton area. If you haven’t yet had a chance to check it out, find a few moments to read A Place to Belong.

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What if we were all connected?

25 04 2015

I have recently learned about http://www.internet.org, described as “a Facebook-led initiative bringing together technology leaders, nonprofits and local communities to connect the two-thirds of the world that doesn’t have internet access”. The projects it supports are aimed at removing barriers for the 2 out of every 3 people who can’t get online. It’s got powerful potential, and it’s a collective effort that spans the globe.internet

It’s the people, however, that really make internet.org so compelling. The first I read about were Erika and Esmeralda, two young girls in Bolivia who share a friendship and a love for inventing. Using scraps and ingenuity, they are inspiring and pushing each other towards a better future. Without the internet. Wow.

Check out their story here: http://connect.internet.org/story/erika-esmeralda





THRIVE Child and Youth Trauma Services

8 03 2015

The Community Child Abuse Council has a new name – THRIVE Child and Youth Trauma Services – and has rebranded to more clearly reflect the agency’s aspirations and services. Find out more at www.thrivechildandyouth.ca

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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.





From Far Away

7 09 2014

from_far_awayBased on the book From Far Away by Robert Munsch and Saoussan Askar, this short animation tells the story of Saoussan, a young girl struggling to adjust to life in Canada after being uprooted from her war-torn homeland. She has come to seek a quieter and safer life, although memories of war and death linger, memories that are awakened when the children at her new school prepare for a scary Halloween. From Far Away speaks to the power within us all to adapt like Saoussan and to welcome a newcomer (National Film Board).

From Far Away (2000, 6 min 39 sec)

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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

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