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
Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends, family and community – let’s work together!