In just a few short weeks the 19th annual Action Build Community Consultation on Chilliwack’s Children and Youth will be taking place on Thursday, May 17, at City Life Church. Sponsored by the Chilliwack Child and Youth Committee (a unique entity unto Chilliwack which tries to identify and rectify gaps in services for children, youth, and their families), it creates an opportunity every year for those from the community and child and youth serving agencies to come together to communicate, collaborate, and connect. This year’s theme is “Ignite. Inspire. Involve. Engage.” Pretty powerful words…isn’t that something we would all love to be a part of…igniting, inspiring, involving, and engaging the children and youth of Chilliwack in all of our interactions with them.
Attendees typically come from a variety of organizations such as: Ministry of Children and Family employees, community partners from Community Services, Xyolhemeyth, Ann Davis, the Child Development Centre, School district staff, as well as the University of the Fraser Valley, faith community, and Fraser Health Authority among others. Essentially, anyone interested in the health, safety, welfare and well-being of the children and youth who call Chilliwack home. However, everyone is welcome and this year we are hoping to have more parents and youth attend as their voices really do make the difference.
As usual there will be a resource fair, hosted by a variety of services and programs for children, youth, and families, time for networking, and break-out workshops. This year’s workshops, five in total with an opportunity to attend two, are: Youth Engagement Tool Kit; Involving Families; Engagement 101; Deep Democracy; and Engaging Faith Communities. More information about each workshop can be found on the event page of the website.
For the third year in a row there was a Youth Consultation prior to this year’s community consult which occurred last Friday at the Cultural Centre. Under the tutelage of Steve Esau, addiction counsellor from Chilliwack Addiction and Prevention Services, and Kafui Sawyer, Mental Health Clinician with the Ministry of Children and Family Development, youth were asked to think about strategies for improving our community’s response to mental health, addiction and domestic violence. Then, many of the same youth are invited to attend the community consultation to provide their unique perspective.
The key note address will be presented by Myles Himmelreich, a Canadian motivational speaker, mentor, and group facilitator who will be talking about “Realities and Possibilities: Living with F.A.S.D.” Using his own experiences growing up with this invisible disability, as well as his journey through alcoholism, homelessness, and feel cast aside from society he is able to educate others about the challenges and strengths that come with such a diagnosis. Myles has stated previously that he is not his diagnosis, he is not FASD – he simply lives with it. He encourages individuals and society to look at it differently – instead of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder he challenges us to consider it Faith, Ability, Strength, and Determination. As a successful individual, with a job, his own home, many friends, he does not consider himself a victim, but a success story.
For more information and to register for this free event please visit the new Chilliwack Child and Youth website at: www.childandyouth.com, or call 604.845.2258.
Eryn Wicker (M.A., R.C.C) is a mental health clinician with the Child and Youth Mental Health team of the Ministry of Children and Family Development in Chilliwack, B.C..