National Volunteer Week spotlight: Ashley Mananquil

BEAM Foundation Founder Jenna Galloway (left) and Ashley Mananquil (right)

By Ashley Mananquil, Wood’s Homes volunteer

I reached out to Woods Homes in the summer of 2016 to provide free yoga classes to youth accessing their programs. At first, it was just a way for me to complete my practicum hours as a new child and youth yoga instructor. After I taught a class with the youth who attended Wood’s Homes 2016 Fitness Day, I really wanted to continue to teach yoga on the campus on an ongoing basis. That’s when the partnership between the BEAM Foundation and Woods Homes was formed.

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Family retreat in the mountains

By Doreen Chin, Wood’s Homes Family Support Counsellor

The Exceptional Needs Program (ENP) recently held a retreat to provide families in the program an opportunity to spend time together, learn and share together, and hear effective parenting strategies.

Ten families, along with ENP staff, a clinician and the program manager took part in this inaugural weekend getaway to Banff.

Parents were provided effective parenting tools and learned ways to best support their child’s mental health needs. They also were given the chance to share their individual journeys and, as some testified, it made them feel less alone.

Each family also created a skit pertaining to a recent family conflict (ENP counsellors acted it out) and participated by helping counsellors practice their newfound skills and strategies to work through the conflict. Families then participated in an ENP Amazing Race, emphasizing the strengths of each family and how they worked as a unit to piece together clues until they finished the race!

Overall, this retreat was a chance for families to unite and be together in a setting that may have not have been available to them otherwise. Here’s what some of them had to say when we asked them about the experience:

What were the top 3 moments of the retreat?

  • The skits
  • The clinician presentation
  • The children and youth outdoor games, and spending time with family

How was this time beneficial to your family?

  • We got to spend quality time together
  • We got to learn more about each other
  • We learned how to communicate better

What was unique about this part of your mental health journey?

  • Getting to connect with other families who struggle with similar issues
  • Not feeling so alone

Some motivations for attending the retreat:

  • Opportunity to spend time with my family in Banff
  • Learn effective strategies
  • Gain new tools to use with our family

What would you tell other families about the retreat and your experience

  • The staff was warm, friendly and helpful
  • The retreat was educational, healing and affirming

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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 line: 1-800-563-6106.