Sunday, December 16, 2012

Prayers For Newton

My passion for creativity always has coincided with what I considered  to be my life long vocation, as a Youth Care Worker. I was very involved in the field, for approximately twenty years, for most of my working life, on the front lines with troubled youth. At one point I made the commitment and became a foster mum, or what was officially referred to as a, Therapeutic Parent Counsellor, which meant I would take on the most challenging kids, with  serious behavioural issues, living in my own home. Suffice to say this eventually became an impossible situation, primarily because my foster daughters and I did not receive the kind of support we were told we would have. I had no illusions about how the system is basically self serving, as I saw many youth and their families fall between the cracks, however I expected more, but my experience ultimately culminated in being greatly disappointed and disheartened by what is a broken system and a broken society.

During my years as a front line Youth Care Worker with troubled youth, many  would be of the opinion these kids were the worst of the worst, with every kind of diagnosis, classification and label included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
 The challenges I faced as a Youth Care Worker did not lie with the youth I worked with, but with the glaring reality of systemic problems and the overwhelming, ongoing  failure to provide these youth and families, with real, affective and  available help and support , in particular in the areas of aftercare, poverty, drug addiction and mental health services, that were and are gravely lacking. I have been personally affected and touched by most of these issues throughout life, in one way or another, and I believe this was one of the main reasons why I felt, being Youth Care Worker was my vocation.

Growing up as a troubled youth, art and creativity provided me with a refuge,  an opportunity to express my suppressed, repressed thoughts and feelings, so much the result of hurt and dysfunction. A life long involvement with the recovery process, from  this very personal experience, combined with my creative skills and a desire to be pursue art, and a few caring adults,  made all the difference to enable me to use these insights and skills as a Youth Care Worker , and I found it very helpful to the youth I worked with every day. It was much easier for them to talk about themselves through their art they had created, developing a sense of  awareness, esteem, healing, and self empowerment. These are great conduits for positive change and understanding.

The most significant thing I consistently and painfully became aware of, as a Youth Care Worker is knowing what a serious crisis we have among our youth today, and I am afraid we are failing them in ways I am not certain we will ever be able to avert. I am always hopeful, however not so optimistic in light of the current events within a world that seems to be lost on the wrong road, and on a collision course with destructive pursuits, instead of social justice, human rights and peace.

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