Almost 1 in 10 local kids say they don’t think a single adult cares about them. This heartbreaking reality has real implications for the mental health of kids in our region – increasing the chances they’ll feel isolated or become susceptible to bullying and depression. Language, poverty or developmental issues – child vulnerability comes in many forms. The solution: connection and support.
This was true for Nuhaa. A typical 8-year-old, Nuhaa likes bubble gum, the colour pink and Peter Rabbit. What’s different? She’s lived through the Syrian war and moved halfway around the world. Settling in Surrey brought safety, but also a new kind of vulnerability. “Nuhaa felt very sad,” says Frial, Nuhaa’s mother. “It was very difficult for her at first. She couldn’t communicate with people.” Nuhaa would come home from school each day crying.
“I was scared nobody wanted to play with me and nobody wanted to be my friend because I didn’t speak English,” Nuhaa says.
Fortunately, a neighbour told Nuhaa’s mom about a United Way School’s Out Program for new Canadians and refugee children… which gives children like Nuhaa a strong sense of belonging and connection to their communities. There she met her mentor, Sam. A former program participant, Sam is now giving back — volunteering so that other kids get the same support that helped her succeed. “We do our homework, we eat snacks, we play,” Nuhaa says. “We have a lot of fun.”
And it’s working. Nuhaa’s learned how to make friends, improved her school work and feels more confident.
Nuhaa is lucky to have people like Sam and a program that cares about her. But, not enough kids have the after-school programs and other supports they need. There are still too many kids across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley who don’t think a single adult cares about them.
That’s an #unignorable issue.
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