FVAS presents gift to Battle River Community Foundation
Youth in Camrose are coming to a greater understanding about who they are and the gifts they possess, thanks to the support of the Battle River Community Foundation.
A gift of $1,000 from the Foundation late last year has made it possible for facilitators from the Family Violence Action Society facilitators to establish a Tap Out Club that is helping junior high students uncover the real reasons for their defiant behaviour.
Tap Out Club members are youth who have been noted for varying degrees of angry outbursts, bullying or being bullied, lack of self-governance, or a general lack of cohesiveness with their classmates that often results in visits to the principal's office.
"Not surprisingly, the students' lack of belief in their own worth and an absence of hope for a bright future are common themes in their outlook on life," said Family Violence Program director Sheralyn Dobos. "When asked if they knew why they were invited into the group one group responded it was because they were the worst class ever."
The Tap Out Club encourages youth to know when to step back, throw in the towel or walk away. Facilitators seek to help them identify the many emotions they wrestle with every day and provide tangible steps to deal with those emotions.
"We started first with a classroom of boys, then another, then later added a group of girls," said Dobos. "The meetings are 42 minutes a week for a period of eight weeks."
Each group that engages in the Tap Out Club works to create its own code of behaviour based on respect for others, decisions by consensus, consistent procedures and other group norms to form a healthy foundation for interaction. Participation in the club is expected, as it is meeting health curriculum objectives set forth by Alberta Education.
"One participant chose to leave the group early on," said Dobos. "Interestingly, within one week this student, who would not commit, requested the permission of the group to return. He has since become one of our most enthusiastic participants."
Dobos said students in the Tap Out Club have begun to think proactively and try to achieve a positive outcome.
"School staff will say some of these students are seen much less frequently at the office. Words like nice and pleasant are even used to describe encounters with them in the hallways. Some of the boys have come early, on their own accord, to the group's meeting place to help with setup. Students that would not formerly have chosen to spend time together now walk to the store together at lunch break. One student with special needs who had always felt misunderstood came to feel safe enough within the group to explore his disability. And the group listened. And asked. And showed respect for him as a person."
One of the thought-provoking exercises some of the students undertake is the creation of a special identity quilt with each student creating a paper "quilt block" that represents who they are as a person.
"Early in the eight-week series, a block depicting drugs and alcohol was submitted by one student," said Dobos. "After having a week to ponder the group's discussion, the creator of the block asked for it back and wanted the opportunity to make a new one. It wasn't what she wanted to put out there to the world."
Family Violence Action Society provides services for men, women, youth and children through group programs and individual counselling to address family violence, anger issues, elder abuse and bullying. Support of the Battle River Community Foundation, along with donations from individuals and other community organizations, is leveraged with grant funds from numerous sources. The Family Violence Action Society also coordinates the Family Violence Response Council to support collaborative efforts of a dozen agencies and organizations to ensure a united approach to issues throughout the community.