All parents of pre-teens wrestle with anxious thoughts of the world their children will be facing as they advance towards maturity and independence. All parents seek a future for their children that include health, happiness, good relationships and vocational success.
This was the question in my mind as my daughter prepared to enter middle school. At the same time my attention was inexplicable altered by an event that occurred in 2002, with a young lady and a cry for help scribbled across the walls of a classroom…
Over seven hundred people were eagerly gathered in a Kelowna auditorium for the opening evening of an international Youth Conference to which I was attending. But the evening began with a bizarre announcement - we were informed of a message, a cry for help that had been written in chalk 360 degrees around the walls of one the classrooms. Pen and paper in hand I visited the room and the first two words my eyes rested on were: 'alone' and 'suicide'. I quickly wrote all the words down before they were erased, the author and their whereabouts unknown. By the end of the conference a young 17 year old girl had declared authorship and requested audience with the entire gathering, but she was denied the chance to speak as there was no time given due to the’ tight schedule’. The audience was assured the young woman would get the necessary help and counselling. To my amazement, as the final speaker began I was quietly asked by staff to speak with this young woman, as she was now quite upset about being denied the voice and time to speak. Scared and unsure I finally found the young women whose first words to me sarcastically screamed: "Who are you? The counselor lady?" To which I softly replied: "No, I'm just Deb - but I read your words and heard your cry. Can we talk?" She dropped her shoulders and reached out her hand and took mine. As many conversations unfolded I began to see how listening, caring and choosing to see someone as whole and significant held a certain therapeutic power. I began to believe that in listening and mentoring Jenny would someday be empowered to hold out her hand to another, just as I had simply done for her.
Incorporated in May 2003 we are now ten years young. Courage for Youth is a community response designed to meet the challenges of an ever changing culture and the impact it is having on our youth. We have delivered programs and events for younger youth (Voices, Scream, Girl-to-Girl relationships); older youth (Pure Power conference, Conversations, Creating Right Relationships); as well as well as parents (All the Rage, Love and Logic, Fight for your Daughter workshop, Kids and Culture).
Thank you to all our community sponsors and volunteers. We look forward to serving you for another 10 years.
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