By Lara Shannon – Foundation Assistant, Wood’s Homes
Earlier this year, I started working at Wood’s Homes as the Foundation Assistant. Coming into a large children’s mental health centre with over 35 programs and services, I quickly realized there was much to learn.
Recently I had the opportunity to learn more about one of the programs – Exceptional Needs Under 12.
This is a short-term (3-9 month) treatment program for children ages 6-11 who have severe behavioural issues resulting from neurological and physiological causes or neglect and abuse. The program provides a safe home-like setting with consistent daily routines and proactive treatment programming and works with the family if possible.
It was a profound experience to visit this program because it made me connect in a very direct way with my purpose for working with Wood’s Homes. I am truly part of a culture that never gives up on kids, no matter how troubled they are.
Just as the Program Supervisor, Susan Ward, was telling us about the program, one of the girls, Kelsey (name has been changed to protect identity), came into the office with a curious look on her face. Susan helped Kelsey introduce herself and ask us why we were visiting. I was touched by the obvious loving connection between Susan and Kelsey.
After ‘Kelsey’ left, Susan said, “You should have seen her when she got here – there is no way she would have even looked at you let alone talked to you.”
‘Kelsey’ is 12-years-old and struggles with anxiety. She has previously asked to stay longer in the program even though she was now over the age of 11 because she felt safe, at home and loved for the first time.
I left the tour feeling torn between intense sadness from hearing the stories of how these young children arrived at the program and hope from the examples of progress that they made. The genuine commitment and passion that was apparent in Susan Ward and the others that worked in the space was very inspiring.
Click here to learn more about the Exceptional Needs Under 12 program.
Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends, family and community – let’s work together!
If you are experiencing a crisis and need to speak to someone, please call our counsellors at our 24/7 Crisis Counselling Line: 403-299-9699 or toll-free: 1-800-563-6106.
Wood’s Homes is a nationally accredited mental health centre – proudly helping communities for over 100 years. Learn more at woodshomes.ca.