One of Youville Centre’s newest credit-worthy programs is called EMBRACE Your Future. EMBRACE stands for: Empower, Motivate, Build Resiliency, Role Model, Advocate, Communicate and Educate. It is through all of these actions and values that Youville Centre’s young mothers are working to create a healthy, positive future for themselves and their child.
Course content includes units on:
- Goal setting and identifying and maximizing personal resources and priorities
- Healthy relationships, how to recognize unhealthy relationships, and safety planning for our young moms and their children
- Identifying internal and external positive and negative factors impacting on self-esteem
- Challenging media images of women, stereotypes of young mothers and gendered assumptions in child rearing
- Building family routines and rituals to strengthen family bonds and build resiliency
- Communication skills, conflict resolution and self-advocacy/assertion
EMBRACE students started their semester by identifying their personal resources and setting measurable goals and action plans for academic and personal success.
Another project the students worked on was called “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not”. The purpose of this assignment was to gain clarity around healthy vs. unhealthy relationships. On paper flower on paper flower petals that pointed to healthy behaviour from a partner in a relationship, e.g. “He realizes that family comes first.” All of the petals came together to form a “He Loves Me” flower. The young moms also discussed what they expect from a partner, not only for themselves, but also for their child. Flower petals showing examples of negative words, actions and unhealthy behaviour in relationships were arranged in a “He Loves Me Not” flower. This exercise helped our students to recognize the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship.
An important component of the EMBRACE program is the emphasis on promoting self-esteem as a foundation for success. During one session, students challenged negative self-talk by creating and committing to positive self-talk in this hand-print assignment. Students committed themselves to saying positive things such as, “I am a survivor” and “I am very proud”.
Using the iMovie program on their computers, Youville students are now completing the final edits of their slideshow movies with video and photo of themselves and their children. Each video outlines promises they are making to their child, relating to how they will treat their child, what they deserve in a relationship, and what they promise to model for their children in their current relationships. The movies will be showcased in an upcoming Media Festival event for donors and volunteers in the new year.
As part of the program, the students are planning their annual memorial vigil for the victims of the Montreal Massacre. This will be Youville Centre’s contribution to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and it will occur during the month of December. A moving event, the vigil allows our students to imagine and work towards a world without violence against women and their children.
We are so proud of our young moms for the work they have done in this new course. We would like to thank TELUS Ottawa — Community Affairs for providing generous funding to support this program through their annual employee contributions.