Monthly Archives: May 2011

SWOVA Facilitator Training Goes Online

We thought if we were going to enter the 21st century, we would go all out!  We are making our Respectful Relationships (R+R) Facilitator training program more accessible using online tools.  This is an exciting new path for us, utilizing E-learning.  Soon, when someone from the Queen Charlotte Islands makes contact with SWOVA and asks how they can be trained to be a Respectful Relationships facilitator, we will have a viable option for them.

  • An alternative way for community and or school based trainers to learn how to facilitate the program in their communities, which may allow groups to begin the training when it works for them, not around the availability of our trainers.
  • We’ll provide a structured learning experience that incorporates more reflection time and opportunities to practice and get feedback, which is critical for this type of personal development.
  • We can give a platform for people to connect across communities and share ideas and best practices.  This can help facilitators with challenges that they are having or provide opportunities for them to incorporate new techniques.  Building a community of trainers will help increase the potential for long term culture change.
  • We’ll also be able to capture the expertise of our current trainers.  One of the challenges of delivering training is that all the magic rests in the hands of the trainer.  By incorporating online learning or e-learning, we have an opportunity to capture the knowledge and style to emulate or just document/record.

The new training program will be pilot-tested this fall and should be ready for wider use early in the New Year.  Stay tuned!

Lynda Laushway – SWOVA Executive Director

Sparking the Interest of Youth in the Community

Spark Fest Poster

One of the unique aspects to any of the initiatives conceived and implemented by SWOVA is that Salt Spring Island plays the distinct role of a Petri dish. The broader community on Salt Spring Island has always embraced SWOVA’s projects, with School District #64 being a leading champion, resulting in yearly program implementation.

Eleven years ago, SWOVA developed the Respectful Relationships (R+R) school-based, and gender-focused violence prevention program for youth aged 12-18 years old. School District #64 is the only school district in the province that has implemented this program on a yearly basis in grades 7, 8, 9, and 10, for the past decade.

The  R+R program has proven to be effective with both male and female students. Each 12-workshop curriculum contains a separate gender workshop. The Pass it On Project grew out of girls and young women taking the R+R program during a separate gender session. They wanted more support for girls and young women at risk, and more time to discuss issues specific to their gender.

Salt Spring was fortunate to be the first community within which the project was initiated. For its second year, four other communities were added (Prince George, Valemount/McBride, Uclulet, and Kamloops), but Salt Spring Island incorporated the added dimension of integrating one of the R+R program’s foundational components with a major objective of the Pass It On Project – to participate more in the community to promote health and safety of young women.

On May 28th, the R+R Youth Team and the Pass It On Mentors will be hosting and running the first annual Spark Fest festival filled with fabulous prizes, delicious food, and great live music. This is the first event of its kind for youth on the island. It all came about when Kate Maurice, the Pass It On Mentor Supervisor, had the opportunity to meet weekly with the R+R Youth Team. Kate felt it was important to build an awareness of SWOVA within the community and suggested the concept of creating a youth festival with the R+R Youth Team. Their immediate reaction was one of excitement. They have never had such an opportunity to build something of this magnitude that would express what is important to them and to share that with the community.

The youth hope to ‘spark’ an awareness of and an excitement for all SWOVA programs. They also have a keen desire to see the Pass It On project continue on Salt Spring Island next year and to expand over the coming years, as R+R has in their lifetime within the school district.

Kate believes that with such articulate and passionate youth, who are ‘doers’, there is nothing stopping them. They are committed to taking action for something that has been inspiring for them. We hasten to add, that it has also been Kate’s vision and enthusiasm that is lighting a spark within all of us to respectfully pass on the values of SWOVA. We look forward to seeing everyone at Spark Fest on May 28th on Salt Spring Island.

Chris Gay – Pass It On Phase II Coordinator

A Fearless Approach

The Pass it On Project had a late start in Uclulet, but the insights and learning from this unique collection of five distinct communities are enriching and enlightening.  The five communities include Opitsaht, Esowista, and Hitacu which are reserves, as well as Tofino and Uclulet. Opitsaht is a 5-minute boat ride from Tofino and Esowista is located just off well-known Long Beach. There used to be a thriving forestry and fishing industry in this area but the main source of employment now comes from tourism. There is a long history of environmental activism in these communities. In addition, most families like to keep active with a wide variety of physical activities such as surfing, marathon running and other sports and cultural events.

Due to the diversity as well as predominance of Aboriginal people in these spread out communities, the project really wanted to foster as much cross-pollination as possible by organizing more group activities (gym games, sleepover and movie nights) that would assist with geographic, transportation, and cultural issues.

Marika Swan, Mentor Supervisor along with Project Coordinator, Sarah Hogan report that they have a very large and thriving group of young women with 9 mentors and 18 mentees! Based on those numbers, group activities seemed to make the most sense. So far the initial mixer has been the highlight of all the activities.

“We kicked off with a meal cooked by the mentors. Interestingly enough, although through dinner they were a little shyer, this was the time where the young women made the really special connections that we saw reflected in the mentor/mentee top 3 choices forms.”

In order to honour the diverse backgrounds of the mentors and mentees a wide variety of approaches and beliefs have been encouraged in their circles.

“We asked a local elder to come and welcome us to the territory and then some of the young women led us in a spirited ‘appreciation song’.”

As the project draws to a close, Marika has this to share about acceptance and inclusiveness:

“I feel that it is important to create spaces that are inclusive to our two-spirited, queer and transgendered youth which are often the most vulnerable and at the same time our most powerful teachers. It has been hard with extremely limited hours to understand how to address this is in a community where it is so rarely openly talked about. We need to be fearless in addressing spaces that exclude students who do not fit into the ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ categories in our schools.”

We wish Marika and Sarah continued success in forging new territory in their community and trust they will have an opportunity to model their fearless approach to mentorship and leadership among youth in the future.

To see the Pass It On program in action in the Uclulet and surrounding areas, have a look at Marika’s new blog:

Chris Gay – Pass It On Phase II Coordinator

Feeling Rejuvenated

Val Jordan, the Mentor Supervisor of the Pass It On Project in Prince George, knows her community well. Prince George is the Northern capital of British Columbia with a population of approximately 70,000. There is a strong multicultural and Aboriginal component to the city, with other communities often converging in Prince George for alternative education on the successful college and university campuses. Prince George is first and foremost a resource-based community, relying heavily on the forest industry, while diversifying to expand tourism and to contribute to the strong leadership within the health and wellness fields. For youth and children, the situation can appear dire at times with a heavy presence of gangs and their affiliates. However, there are many invested community members thriving and expanding their programs as well as volunteer based organizations, in an effort to boost protective factors in the community.

A champion in the community is key to the successful recruitment of any new program. One teacher in the target high school saw the program as beneficial. She spearheaded the recruitment and picked girls who would be a benefit as well as benefit from the program. Val adds, “I think once the girls came to the training retreat they were sold. Most of the girls have reflected upon the benefit of the mentor meetings as a forum and way to learn from each other. They of course want to effect change and help young girls to understand high school and teen pressures.”

One of the most important aspects of the program has been the recognition of the mentors. The training retreat to prepare the young high school women to be mentors was a highlight for all the mentors. So much so, they want to have a similar end of program event with their buddies. The aim is to have a dinner followed by a discussion about challenges girls face, along with a body image brainstorm.

Val concludes with, “I have to say I feel regularly rejuvenated at the mentor meetings.” After hearing all the positives about her program, we have to admit, we too are feeling rejuvenated about Pass It On in Prince George. Thanks Val.

Chris Gay – Pass It On II Coordinator