Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
I am a CYW, having
graduated from CYW programs at Algonquin College, and Ryerson University.
Most recently, I have earned graduate diplomas in Promoting
Resiliency in Children with ADHD, and Supporting & Enhancing
Children's Mental Health and my MEd.
I began my child and youth work career working with Family Tree
Youth Services' residence for teen girls. Later, I became involved with
the violence against women (VAW) sector, working at Harmony
second stage woman's shelter), and then went on to develop the family
and children's program for a new shelter that was opening, Chrysalis
House and remained there as the CYW
for many years. Throughout this time, I facilitated community based
social/life skill, childhood anxiety and children who witness violence
groups with Eastern
Ottawa Resource Centre and Western
Ottawa Community Resource Centre.
I also had a unique opportunity to develop and coordinate a program at
Aid Society – the CAS/VAW Integrated Services Project.
It was a one year pilot – that is still flourishing, but I returned to
my role as a frontline CYW
after the one year pilot; most recently, I worked as a Intake/Crisis at
Western Ottawa Community resource centre,
proving crisis, short term and child/youth/family counselling.
Over the years, I have taught courses with Algonquin College's
CYW Program and in 2012 moved into teaching online for
Algonquin's Centre for
Continuing and Online Learning's
Child & Youth Worker Program when I had my daughter; and since have had
a little boy join our family.
In front of my computer or at the playground is where you will find me most days!
Originally, I had planned to become a family law lawyer; with an interest in the rights of children. I began working in residential care and found my true passion was working frontline, in the lifespace of young people. I enrolled in the CYW program at Algonquin and was sure the legal field was where I wanted to land, and sought out a placement at a correctional program for youth. Instead, I ended up with a placement at a second stage shelter for women and children who had experienced abuse at home; and now still find myself working within the VAW sector.
There are many profound and meaning making statements I have read and heard over the years, but if I have to choose one, it would be: "Today I am gonna try and change the world" - Johnny Reid (2012).
This is a line from a country song, but it very much resonates for me. As CYWs we may not see the changes we are fostering, or we may not have the power to change the larger systems; but every single day, we can go out there, and know that we are making a difference.
To have joined a field where meaning making and relationships are central to our practice, I consider myself lucky that my path led me here. The work can be hard, but it sure is profoundly worth it.
There is so much meaning making in Jodi
Picoult's stories. Once, I sobbed so much as I read one that my partner
thought something had happened - in our real life! I mark the date on my
calendar when a new novel is being released. My Sister's Keeper is one
of my favorites.
The one that comes to mind is when I was participating in a children’s Christmas party – 300 children from area shelters attended and we were Santa’s first stop on Christmas Eve. In the smaller group of children who attended from our shelter, one little girl had developed selective mutism as a result of trauma she had experienced. When it was her turn to go up to see Santa, she did so nervously but there was a shine in her eye. She had to be helped to walk back with a huge box and unwrapped it to discovered a gigantic doll house. Her reaction still gives me chills. We described it as ‘screaming out her feet’. Her little feet were tapping so fast s she unwrapped the package, and her smile was brighter than I had ever seen!
I can't get enough of the e-journal CYC Online. This is not a shameless plug for the site! Teaching online has taken me out of the frontlines of child and youth care practice; CYC Online helps me feel connected and current.
Common Sense Media is a great tool for CYWs related to
digital citizenship. I find myself on there a lot looking at video game
and app ratings and checking out their resources for parents and
Sauve-Griffin, J. (2009). When we stop to ask why: Reflective practice in action. Relational Child & Youth Care Practice,22(3), 44-45.
So many events and people; those in the CYW field, around the
field and out of it.
The children and families I have worked with have influenced me the most. They have reinforced the theory I have learned over the years; and have fostered the ability within myself to develop my own style and find the approaches that fit best with my heart.
Be you. Be mindful, be informed, be open, be patient, be kind, but most of all, be you.
Last updated October 2016