“I hope that the government will be wise and realize that allocating money towards centres like these is very important because it will mean a natural support and prevent other kids from coming into care.”
Laura Garcia-Stewart is a mom of two teens and a 10-year-old, a Bear Clan Patrol captain, a youth crisis worker, and a university student close to earning her bachelor of social work. She says the family – the “natural support” for children and youth – can be weakened by low incomes and newcomer isolation, and recent traumas like residential schools and the 60s scoop have greatly weakened it. If that support is missing then youth need other sources at hand.
“Having someone step in and provide some of that natural support is important. To say ‘you’re loved, you’re legitimate, your struggles are real and we’re here. We care.'”
“You never know what kind of fruit those seeds are going to give at the right time.”
Laura says not enough money is put into preventative measures for youth.
“There seems to be a lot of money pumped into the child welfare system, but kids who would not necessarily meet the criteria, or do not need to be in care – they might just be struggling – there isn’t a lot of resources out there.”
A place like #WestEnd247 – with caring, trustworthy workers who take the time to build relationships, listen empathetically to youth in need, and offer guidance – can be foundational for a whole life.
“It could make the difference between them choosing between going out and getting high and putting themselves in a bad situation or being safe.”
“If you think about teenagers and even children, they’re building that sense of self and sense of belonging, and they get that not only from peers but from all people around them. If they can be surrounded by people that care for them it strengthens them. To tell them, ‘you are loved, you do matter, you are important,’ that goes a long way.”
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