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Showing posts from March, 2018

To Be Known

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Overwhelmed. Full of fear. Defenses up. Lonely.

This is the reality for all too many students as they walk the halls of their high-school. In the hustle and bustle of over 2000 students in the hallways, it is easy to feel lost and feel like just another face in the crowd. Many of the students that I encounter feel like they are fighting for survival in this place, longing for friendship, companionship and connection. They long for someone to notice when they are feeling down, someone to talk to about that hobby they love that everyone else thinks is weird, and someone that will bring their favourite candy and want to hangout with them for the lunch break. They just want someone to know them.

In every highschool there is usually at least one room that seems to be filled with students instantly the second the bell goes for the lunch break. These rooms all have two things in common; couches and free food. The smell of popcorn being popped and bagels being toasted brings swarms of hungry…

H.D. Stafford

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Since January I have been at H.D. Stafford Middle School in Langley. Three years ago I had the privilege of starting a weekly sports night at Stafford, and I have been driving for a hockey program for them on a weekly basis, therefore the territory was familiar. Nonetheless, it has been an adjustment moving from the high school into the middle school. The opportunities here are immense. They are asking me to reach out to my network in order to find people who want to run afterschool programs for the youth. Thus far I have been able to start a board games club. I will potentially be helping in classrooms or with the youth that are particularly vulnerable. As of right now I spend four days a week at Stafford during lunch period. In this time I bring a game or a fun activity and I use it as a bridge to conversations with students.  I have been able to connect with the students which are in the lunch program and many of them play on the PUCKS hockey team that I drive for. The staff are…

Blind Dates

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Have you ever been on a blind date before? Personally I haven’t, and I’m glad for that. The closest I ever got was asking a girl out and having a super awkward coffee date in Grade 11. She barely spoke, I was nervous and asked tons of questions, but mostly we sat in silence. Sometimes friends can think two people will hit it off and it can just miss the mark entirely. Sometimes they can hit it off and that’s great- it’s just up to the relationship between those two people.

Why am I talking about blind dates? As a youth worker I get set up on ‘blind dates’ quite regularly.  “Oh you should meet this person! You should connect with this guy- I’ll bring him over. Take him out for coffee!”

It happens to me all the time and sometimes it totally works. I get connected with a new young person through a friend, counsellor, or youth leader and it is awesome! Sometimes we get connected, and it just doesn’t work. At all. We sit down or do something fun once and than I never see or hear from them…

The Power Of A Joke

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What’s red and bad for your teeth? A brick.

Yup… terrible right? That’s one of my go to lines with youth when they’re in a bad mood, the conversation has died or we are veering into inappropriate topics. I usually follow it up with this one; What do you call a dog with no legs? It doesn’t matter what you call him he’s not coming. That one usually gets me a groan or an eye roll but I never stop there… Why did Sarah fall off her bike? Because she had no arms. By the third or fourth anti-joke I have them right where I want them and usually the next 20 minutes are filled with equal amounts of laughter and groaning. You might as well admit it now; you’ve been chuckling while reading this.

An anti-joke’s punchline is something that is not supposed to be funny. The irony of this is typically what leads to the humor. I’ve seen these ridiculous jokes change the atmosphere of a hallway from cold and uninviting to one where everybody’s gathering around. I’ve seen them move a youth from angry si…

Adverse Childhood Experience

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At our March Greater Vancouver Staff Meeting, we took part in a workshop on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) led by Registered Psychologist, Jennifer Mervyn. Recent studies have been shown that childhood trauma can severely affect our health as we age. 64% of the population has been found to have at least one childhood trauma, while 12% have four or more. ACEs are considered to be the single most powerful determinant of our health, far outweighing any biological history.

These statistics can be concerning considering the demographic of youth that we work with. Many of the youth we have contact with find themselves living in the current reality of these Adverse Childhood Experiences. So how do we interject into their reality in hope of preventing long-term consequences? How do we support these youth in stopping the cycles from being passed along to future generations?

One of the most encouraging statistics that Jennifer shared during her presentation was that a caring individual i…

Relying On My Intuitions

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Intuition is something that I have learned is very important when it comes to working with teenagers. Especially since they are not always an open book about everything going on in their lives. I do not consider myself to be your “typical” youth worker (then again, who really is?) because I would describe myself as an introvert. At times it can be hard when your job revolves around meeting new people everyday, especially teenagers! However, with my introverted personality comes other skills and gifts that I am learning I can bring to our team with Youth Unlimited. I have strong insights into people’s emotions and moods which helps in understanding how they are feeling. I am able to pick up on body language, facial expressions and tone of voice to better understand and empathize with them. 
This intuition helped me in a situation with a teenager. It was during one of our regular Wednesday night programs when I spotted Sophia by herself and not engaging with the rest of her friends. Si…

Contentment

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Living in the now while anticipating the future is the paradox that I find myself to be living in lately.  In a few short months, Matt and I will be welcoming our first child into the world - something that we have longed and prayed for. In a few short months, I will be entering into a different stage of life. One that is hard to imagine as almost every aspect of it is foreign to me. I anticipate the future with excitement and eagerness. I cannot wait to hold my baby for the first time and I love the idea of nurturing another being and devoting my time and energy to a tiny human.

I also find myself grieving what I will be putting aside for a time. My job with Youth Unlimited has fulfilled a part of me that I did not realize I needed so bad. I have found an identity within this organization and I struggle to imagine going a year without it.

Since joining the Langley Youth Unlimited team 3 years ago, I have witnessed a lot of ups and downs within our team. We have grown from a team of …