May 31 to June 6 is BC Child and Youth in Care Week. Photo supplied by Sasamans Society

May 31 to June 6 is BC Child and Youth in Care Week. Photo supplied by Sasamans Society

Sasamans hopes to reduce stigma around children and youth in care

BC Child and Youth in Care week held from May 31 to June 6

Youth and kids who are part of the care system in B.C. face many hurdles, so the Sasamans Society aims to break down those barriers and celebrate these youth for their successes and abilities.

Sasamans is hosting the BC Child and Youth in Care week for the fifth time this year from May 31 to June 6. The idea is to celebrate and lift up the kids and youth who are part of the care system and to show them they are a valued part of the community.

“There’s so much stigma that comes with it,” said Taylor Shuttleworth, Aboriginal Youth Navigator with Sasamans Society. “We’re really just trying to reduce some of that stigma and create some sort of language around that week and how we can go about spreading some awareness.”

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Typically, the event includes celebrations that bring people together. However, for the second year in a row things are going to have to be a bit different. Sasamans will be hosting a series of online events every day of the week including a fitness bingo, a photo scavenger hunt, caramel apples, and a colouring contest. The goal is to build a community and help break down some of the isolation that can come up from being in this kind of position.

“There are a variety of barriers that come with being a foster kid,” Shuttleworth said. “Oh my goodness, it’s one of those things… in a sense I feel like sometimes they feel like their community is disconnected from them and they really feel alone. The hope here is to really be able to advocate this week and bring them together to feel celebrated for their diverse talents and their accomplishments.

“We want to make sure they have a supportive community that really stands beside them and with them,” she added.

While Sasamans does not have concrete numbers for the amount of kids who are in the care system in Campbell River and area, Shuttleworth said around 100 people have signed up for the event.

“Those are not all of the kiddos that are in care. Those are just the ones that wanted to participate in an event like this. It’s significantly high,” she said. “We average significantly higher than other communities. We also kind of have the scope of Campbell River and up to Tahsis and to Gold River as well.”

Kids can end up in the foster care system for a number of reasons, including residential school trauma, inter-generational trauma and poverty.

“There’s a lack of supports and resources for parents, families and youth to navigate through these barriers,” Shuttleworth explained. “It’s the social determinants of health. A lot of those pieces come into play when the kiddos are brought into care and we should be making sure those needs are met before those kids even go into care.”

That being said, those issues should not be what defines these kids lives. Shuttleworth says that instead they should be celebrated.

“I really hope that we can have a celebration and a chance to connect and to raise awareness to help to fight that stigma that comes from being a foster kid.”

To sign up for the event, contact Shuttleworth at taylorg@sasamans.ca.

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marc.kitteringham@campbellrivermirror.com

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