Kids helping kids
Students fill backpacks for the youngest victims of abuse
By: Amy Crofts
| Posted: Friday, Dec 20, 2013 01:45 pm
For a child who cannot return home for the night because of abuse, a toothbrush is a necessity but a teddy bear is comfort.
Toiletries, teddies and T-shirts were just some of the things Grade 1 students from École Father Jan School have been filling 30 backpacks with for the last several months. The backpacks will be given to children and youth that use the Zebra Child Protection Centre in Edmonton.
The Zebra centre supports children and their families who have experienced abuse and helps them navigate the criminal justice system.
"These backpacks are essential for children and youth who come into the centre,” said Det. Nicole Chapdelaine with the Zebra centre. “It’s important for the children and youth who are victims of abuse and family violence to know that there are people who care about them.”
In 2012, more than 1,083 children and youth were assisted by the centre. By the end of September this year, the Zebra centre had assisted more than 1,500.
Students at Father Jan were eager to help fill the growing need.
“Our spiritual theme this year is, ‘Casting our nets of peace, we are anchors of hope.’ This is our way of providing hope to some people right here in our community who are in very difficult situations,” said Monique Auray, Grade 1 teacher at Father Jan.
Members from the St. Albert RCMP and Edmonton Police Service, along with a Zebra, paid a visit to the elementary school last week to pick up the overflowing backpacks brimming with clothes and child-friendly supplies.
“We believe … that the strength of our community response to child abuse, exemplified by the generosity of École Father Jan Grade 1 students, offers hope as we work together to promote justice and healing,” said Kimberly Clark, director of Zebra.
Zebra is the first multi-disciplined child advocacy centre of its kind in Canada.
It is built on the concept that similar to the way adult zebras form a protective circle around their young when danger appears, so can humans. By bringing together a community - child protection investigators, police officers, prosecutors, donors and volunteers – it creates a safe space for the youngest victims of abuse.