May 31, 2019 - 10:45am
VIU Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care alum Emma Gillis hopes to continue community-based research projects after graduation that support families, youth and children.
Supporting the rights and well-being of children, youth and families has always been a passion for Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care alum Emma Gillis.
“What drew me to the CYC program at VIU was that it is focused on relational and experiential learning,” she says.
Gillis received that hands-on learning experience through the Centre for Community Outreach and Care (CCOC), a third-year practicum placement for CYC students. The CCOC works with local Nanaimo stakeholders to identify community needs and engage in child- and family-focused activities.
Over the past two years, Gillis had the opportunity to research and analyze how children, youth and families within the community have been impacted by the opioid epidemic. The focus of her practicum was coordinating a series of community-based dialogues exploring the impact of the opioid crisis on children, youth and families. The other component of the project was to create a children’s group for those affected by the opioid poisoning epidemic.
“This project has had a tremendous impact on the community, bringing together a wide range of community members, service providers, and young people impacted by the epidemic, honouring and valuing the lived and living experiences of community members,” says Gillis. “It was truly a great experience working alongside the community and discovering the immense strength our community holds.”
VIU Professor Stephen Javorski says Gillis’s passion for her community and for the opioid crisis project led her to continue developing the project during her fourth year of study.
“Gillis’s work embodies the intended purpose of the outreach centre – to provide meaningful learning opportunities for students while helping to provide support to community members,” he says. “It has been a pleasure working with Emma during her studies at VIU and I wish her the best as she starts the next chapter of her academic career.”
Throughout her time at VIU, Gillis’s passion for supporting children and families has only deepened. Her experiences through the CYC have helped broaden her understanding of the many inequities people in the community face on a daily basis.
“It has allowed me to not only recognize but truly value the internal strengths and resiliencies each of these families hold,” says Gillis. “The program has provided me the opportunity to gain a deeper sense of self, recognizing my own strengths, limitations and privileges and how they all relate to and interact with the work I intend to engage in.”
Gillis starts a Master of Arts in Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria this fall, and hopes to continue engaging in community-based research that bridges the gap between people accessing services and those providing the services.
Rae-Anne Guenther, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University
Tags: Teaching and Learning