Child Witness Centre is in safe hands thanks to $1.7 million pledged through community generosity
November 13, 2017
The Child Witness Centre has announced the Safe Hands-Strong Futures Community Campaign – established in response to a pressing need to change the system of how children and youth who are victims of physical or sexual abuse are supported locally.
Laura Muirhead, Executive Director of the Child Witness Centre, announced that $1,736,000 has already been pledged towards the goal to raise a minimum of $2 million. This funding enables the Child Witness Centre to establish and provide oversight to the Child Youth Advocacy Centre (CYAC), establish the Child and Youth Advocate Program in Waterloo Region and support the ongoing work in the Child Witness Program. The community is now being asked to ‘Join Hands’ to help move us closer to our fundraising goal.
The CYAC, located at 400 Queen St. S. (inside Carizon Family and Community Services), is a child and youth-friendly centre that specializes in the investigation and support of young people who disclose abuse or are affected by abuse. Police and child welfare professionals jointly investigate allegations of child abuse in a comforting, confidential, child and youth-friendly space, reducing the number of times and places a child needs to tell their story. These dedicated investigators are specially trained for interviewing children who report sexual or physical abuse. Child and Youth Advocates from the Child Witness Centre walk with the child, youth and family from the time of disclosure until they no longer need the services of the CYAC. They provide advocacy, support and link them to services to help them begin to heal.
“It’s been an incredible journey so far” says Laura Muirhead. “The Child Witness Centre has been working under the radar for 30 years but with a big story to tell. Over 900 young people and their families received our help last year. Children and youth whose lives are now beginning to heal and who are moving towards hopeful and strong futures. As I have talked to potential supporters, I have been overwhelmed with a shared sense of caring for our youth and the impact on our community for years to come.”
At a campaign launch event hosted at the new Child and Youth Advocacy Centre in Kitchener, there were rounds of applause and smiling faces to hear that the campaign has received the support of so many generous businesses, families and local groups.
Guests at the launch included a group of local champions – led by Heidi Balsillie, Honorary Chair of the Campaign and a group of valued members of the Campaign’s Leadership Circle – who have been having quiet conversations across the Region to explain the new CYAC and the challenges that face hundreds of youth who are victimized every year, often by someone they know and trust.
The campaign team announced an impressive group of local champions – all known as Founding Supporters. These include Abundance Canada, Bob and Judy Astley, Astley Family Foundation, The Jim & Lorna Blair Charitable Foundation, Heid Balsillie through The Fairmont Foundation, The Kitchener Rangers, Mersynergy Charitable Foundation, The Savvas Chamberlain Foundation and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada.
Each of these local champions, and many more, have a shared commitment to ensuring that children and youth who have experienced abuse in our community can grow up feeling safe and supported. Shawn McKelvie, President of the Board for the Kitchener Rangers Hockey Club shared that “the Rangers are proud to support this work as it aligns with our strong commitment to children and youth in our community.”
“We are so grateful for the support of these supporters and I know we will reach our goal of raising $2 million or even more,” said Heidi Balsillie. “With the holiday season upon us, I am asking every family and business in Waterloo Region to JOIN HANDS and support the Child Witness Centre and the Safe Hands-Strong Futures Community Campaign.” Ms. Balsillie encouraged people to donate online through the Child Witness Centre’s secure website at childwitness.com or by dropping in or calling their Duke Street office.
About the Child Witness Centre
The Child Witness Centre provides support, education and advocacy for children and youth who are or may become victims or witnesses of abuse or crime. We are a team of caring, compassionate professionals who walk with children and youth on their journey through the criminal justice process, helping them have a voice and fostering healing, hope and wellbeing. Our vision is a community where children and youth are safe, valued and heard, empowering them toward strong futures.
We believe that
- Children and youth have the right to be safe, valued, heard and supported
- Every child and youth has unique needs that deserve tailored support
- More can be achieved by working with our community partners
- Integrity, trust and respect are the foundation for lasting relationships.
Laura Muirhead, Executive Director
519-744-0904 ext. 212