Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A dream takes flight: Young Carers Cause

I am honored, inspired, humbled, invested, uplifted, hopeful, and engaged with the young carers cause.

Honored to be a part of a movement that is empowering and supportive of young people who contribute in a multitude of ways to their families and communities.  Young people who work tirelessly and often without recognition at the expense of their own growth and development.  They do this without adequate skills, support, and recognition.  They fulfill a need in their family because the need is so big someone has to step up.

Inspired. I am inspired by the commitment of one woman who saw this need in our social fabric and worked tirelessly to ensure that the movement continued.  She discovered this need in her role at work and shone a light so bright it illuminated the needs of young carers so brightly that others joined her.  She lead her colleagues to put a call into the community for other agencies to look at the people they serve in an encompassing way to see if there were people young people impacted by illness in the homes of the clients they went to serve too.  Did the family of the client with a brain injury/Alzheimer's Disease/ MS etc.  have a child who lived in the home who had needs that their agency didn't have the resources to adequately support?  She began to ask other agencies to review the way the assessed the needs of caregivers in the home.  This provided the foundation for the Young Carers Initiative Niagara (YCIN).  The YCIN began to offer recreational opportunities for children in homes with a family member with an illness or disability with seedling money it was able to get through grant writing and with the dedicated help of volunteers.  When she retired the YCIN dissolved.

It wasn't long before the faces of the children she touched visited her in her thoughts and dreams.  She decided that there was more work to be done and went back to work.  She called the working group of representatives back to the table to bring focus and light to the young people who's needs had only fleetingly been heard.  Back at the table she found others who were as passionate as herself who were willing to give of themselves to keep working toward the goal of ensuring that the needs of this vulnerable group of children and youth were met.  The YCIN continued with strength in numbers to move the agenda of Young Carers forward.  Together, the group of agencies were successful in getting the attention of a major funding body and soon the Young Carers Initiative was a registered charity and an incorporated business.  The Powerhouse Project for Young Carers was the first project to offer programs and services to Young Carers in Canada.  They provided service to the Niagara Region (made up of 12 municipalities) and Haldimand Norfolk.  The movement has spread and there are similar programs popping up across the country.  This led to the development of Young Carers Canada.  It is currently operating as a steering committee much like the YCIN did, and a group of invested researchers, community partners, and stakeholders are working hard to create a national body to support and encourage the development of a social policy response for Young Carers across the country.  This has included creating a national body of research, development of standardized assessment tools, program planning tool kits for people who would like to offer programs within their agency/service delivery.

Humbled.   I am humbled by the commitment of the people leading this important mission.  The expenses, the time, the resources, the advocacy, that the bring to bring a dream to life is humbling.  They work on their own time, financially contribute in many ways, they juggle their own commitments to make considerable time for the work of this newly formed and forming movement.

Invested.  I am invited to the table as a person with a disability who has been concerned about the impact my illness has had on my children.  The people who headed these committees and Boards have allowed my voice to be heard and invited my contributions and those of my growing children to mold and shape this movement.  Under the leadership of the founders of this movement I have become increasingly invested in applying my own skills, strengths and resources to fuel this dream.

Uplifted.  Knowing that this work is translating into programs, services and leading a social movement whereby Young Carers are seen, heard,  and recognized in meaningful ways brings me great hope for the future.

Engaged.  There is still much work ahead for the Young Carers Cause.  I am plugged in locally and nationally to provide what ever I can to make sure that young carers get noticed for the contributions they make, to ensure that they are included in important discussions, have adequate support and have opportunities to just be kids.

Watch this clever You Tube short film about the social model.


Heather said...


I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could e-mail me?


Kim said...

Sure, I need your email address.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou