Craigwood Youth Services

When I was fourteen years old, my family experienced what can only be described as a breakdown. I had to leave the family home and became a ward of the Crown. Shortly thereafter, I found myself living in a residential home operated by Craigwood. This point in my life was, and remains, the most difficult struggle I have faced, and I consider myself lucky that I did not have to face it alone. Not only did I have a warm bed – a luxury which not all displaced teens have – but I also had support from a team of staff that were focused both on meeting my day-to-day needs and on teaching me the skills necessary to fulfill my own needs going forward. Put simply, the compassion and support I received at Craigwood enabled me to weather the storm.

After graduating from Fanshawe College in London, I returned to Craigwood, this time as a member of the staff team. It was at this point that I realized the diversity and complexity of the youth which Craigwood cares for. The youth I worked with came from many backgrounds and faced a wide range of challenges. What they all shared in common, though, was that they needed both support and a structured treatment program. They needed a supportive living environment, and they needed to be taught and to practice the life and social skills they would need going forward. I was proud to be part of the team which endeavoured to fulfill those needs, and it lifted me to see the youth progress as their needs were met.

I worked at Craigwood throughout my undergraduate degree at Western University and resigned only when I made the decision to attend law school in Toronto. I recently graduated from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, and I will soon be articling at a Bay St. law firm. At my current age of 26, my life looks very different than it did when I was a teenager. I couldn’t have imagined having the opportunities that I do now. When youth are facing hard times, as most who live at Craigwood are, the future to them feels very far away. The challenges they face in the present are more salient to them and perhaps also to those who interact with them. But the people these youth will become in the future depends to a significant extent on the support they receive while navigating the turmoils of their younger years, and this is the vital role that Craigwood serves. It offers a home, it offers support, it offers evidence-informed treatment, and it offers compassion to those youth who need it most.

Brandon

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