Editor's note: This story deals with violence against children. If you are in crisis, call the crisis line 1-877-890-5711.
Maude Cyr is running for Sea to Sky kids who face violence.
Cyr, a Pemberton resident, mother of two, and education assistant at L'École La Vallee De Pemberton, will leave from downtown Squamish's Howe Sound Women’s Centre office on Sept. 26 and run 110 kilometres to Lil'wat Nation territory on the Sea to Sky Trail.
"I have always been working with children and their well-being is my priority," said Cyr, who has been an EA for 13 years.
This fundraising campaign — "Run to end children and youth from violence and abuse" — is to gain funds for PEACE (Prevention, Education, Advocacy, Counselling, Empowerment), a Howe Sound Women's Centre program that offers individual counselling and support groups for children and youth aged three to 18, and their families, who have experienced violence and/or abuse in the home. The program also supports families who are going through a difficult separation or divorce.
According to Ashley Oakes, executive director of the centre, 124 children and youth received free counselling with the centre’s counsellors in 2019/2020.
Twenty-nine girls also attended summer camps in Squamish, Whistler, and Pemberton facilitated by PEACE counsellors.
Further, 620 students in Grades 5 to 7 in schools in Squamish and Pemberton received BELIEVE presentations, which teach children about violence prevention, consent, and healthy relationships.
During COVID-19, programs moved online for a time.
"We saw the need for all services provided by HSWC increase throughout the past several months," Oakes told The Chief.
Cyr says these services offered by the centre are the things she sees as being very needed, especially during the stress of COVID-19.
She is also a runner by nature, so this method of fundraising fits perfectly, she said.
"The addition of knowing there are children around me in the school who have witnessed or even been the victim of an act of violence or abuse makes me want to do something else [other] than just think about it," she said.
"The drive to help in some way, that I had during the beginning of COVID, was very strong. I couldn't think about anything else. I knew there were some students who are not in a safe place at their home and who are stuck there with nobody who can identify the violence they go through and where there is nobody who can be their confidant. Also with all the stress that parents have during COVID makes the risk... higher for the children who are regularly abused."
She says while the schools do their best and have a plan to help vulnerable kids, the staff aren't in each house verifying that kids are OK.
"So that is why I really want to send a message to our community about violence [that] abuse is happening in families," she said.
She said most cases of violence are intergenerational.
"The adult who has been abused... and has not been seen by a counsellor or psychologist, will potentially be a violent person," she said, adding these adults need help to break the cycle of violence.
Find more information on Cyr's Facebook page: “Run to end children and youth from violence and abuse."