By: Dali Carmichael
Care. Advocate. Program.
These are the three elements that define the important role of child and youth workers.
This month at Algonquin, CYW students will be fulfilling their role as advocates for children by promoting the Purple Ribbon Campaign, highlighting the organization’s efforts to end child abuse.
“Children don’t have much say, and what they say isn’t taken very seriously,” said Alexandra Bitove, a third-year CYW student. “Our goal is to make a safe environment for children and to advocate for children.”
The students aim to raise awareness about child abuse prevention and what to do when children report being abused.
“We support our clients and we advocate for their needs, their rights, their beliefs,” Michelle McCleery, another CYW student. “Essentially, we’re the voice of the child when the child does not have one.”
They will also raise funds for the Children’s Aid Society’s Cookie Jar initiative, which provides financial assistance to people in the care of the CAS.
“Essentially, CAS is collecting donations for the cookie jar fund (which) helps with extracurricular activities,” said McCleery.
“The CAS gets a lot of funding from the government, but there is still a discord between how much they get and what they’re able to do for families.
“With that little bit of extra money they get through donations, they’re able to run a lot more for their children, get them into a lot more things.”
According the statistics from the Purple Ribbon Campaign, the CAS received about 163, 673 referrals about possible abuse and neglect last year, or what amounts to almost a third of children ages 0 to 14.
“A lot of people are scared to make an assumption about abuse, but the best thing to do is to actually call CAS,” said Bitove. “More than 6,000 families in Ottawa receiving support from CAS.”
To find out more about CYW program, the Purple Ribbon Campaign, the CAS, or the Cookie Jar fund, find the students dressed in purple in the Student Commons every Friday throughout the month of October, from 2 p.m. to 4p.m.
“We’re doing the campaign for class, said Bitove. “But as child and youth workers me and my group feel really strongly about child abuse.
“We probably would have done this even if it wasn’t just for school.”