CHHA BC Youth Peer Support Program hosted a free event in the Fall of 2019 called “Empowering Girls of Tomorrow.” It was facilitated by Workshop Coordinator, Nicole Leung, with guest Dianne Cervantes. Twenty-one individuals came together to attend the event on a calm autumn Saturday.
The packed event included a combination of two foci: (1) well-being and (2) career education with a goal of empowering hard of hearing young women and girls with knowledge and camaraderie. Each focus had guest speakers.
The morning kicked off to a start at the Children’s Hearing & Speech Centre of BC in Vancouver. The ambiance in the room was bright and filled with enthusiasm. The workshop was organized in open-circle formation to allow for visibility. Members were welcomed with reminders of confidentiality and safe space. Support was made available if anyone needed a breather, but as the day went on, the bond between all participants grew as stories and lessons were shared.
For the first portion, Dianne and Nicole reviewed the concept of empowerment and ways to protect oneself against relationship abuse. The dual covered topics such as gaslighting, online relationship abuse, indicators of abuse, the cycle of abuse, self-care, and self rights. And surprisingly, some guests shared experiences and strategies for self-growth and conflict management.
In the guest portion, Felicia D’Amato from Vancouver Coastal Health’s Deaf Well-Being Program shared information about mental wellness resources available and practiced mindfulness with the group. Services shared included child and youth mental health services, therapy, social work, substance use, community education, psychiatry, support groups, and referrals to other healthcare providers with communication supports like ASL interpreting. The group enjoyed her visit and was active in asking questions for more information.
During lunch, participants created memories at the phot booth and filled the room with laughs, giggles and gratitude.
Finally, the second focus: the career portion. Nicole presented a career workshop on workplace rights for those with disabilities, incorporating her own experiences as a hard of hearing registered nurse. This workshop included workplace rights, ideas for workplace accessibility, critical thinking of workplace environments and jobs, and the benefits of having people with disabilities in the workplace.
In this portion, two guests shared their career paths and opened the floor up to a Q & A period. Elissa Robb, an audiologist with hearing loss, shared her doubts and triumphs as she navigated university, rejection, and career choice. And Deepi Leihl, a radio broadcasting reporter, shared how her journey becoming a writer and advocate as a woman of color and disability. The group were floored by the stories and could have continued chatting about their journeys.
The day ended with bellies full of pizza, hearts full of warmth, and minds full of inspiration and new knowledge. Both guest speakers and participants smiled proudly at one another. Eleven participants, four guest speakers, and one great day couldn’t sum together just how invaluable the workshop day was for all of us.
Special thanks to: Nicole Leung
Guest speakers: Dianne Cervantes and Felicia D’Amato,
Special guests: Elissa Robb and Deepi Leihl.
Your contributions could not have been made possible without you!