“While they’re going through their normal lives,
we’re right there alongside them,
helping them work through different challenges.”
I’m in my last semester of Sheridan’s Child and Youth Care Program. I decided to enter this field because I love working with kids. Helping them, guiding them, it gives me meaning.
We had this support group back in Riyadh. We were all mothers, we would get together and read books and talk about our children. It gave me a sense of community.
I’m a mother of three. Since having my own kids, I started looking for these kinds of resources. I started reading, then applying different strategies I read about to my parenting. Seeing the results, what was working, it made me feel like I had a responsibility to help other children, as I had helped my own.
That’s why I love this program. It’s aimed at helping kids and youths. While they’re going through their normal lives, we’re right there alongside them, helping them work through different challenges.
In my practicum right now, we are leading classes about emotions. Our goal is to help teach kids how to regulate their emotions, how to define them. It helps them build strong mental health. Being aware of their emotions can also help them gain more control in their own lives.
I think this kind of program is going to be really important in schools, especially after COVID. The pandemic has affected kids a lot, socially, emotionally, even academically, and they need to heal. I want to be part of helping to teach these skills to kids.
When everything moved to online, it was really hard for me and my kids. Often, I couldn’t study at home. My kids were doing school at home; they needed my supervision and support. I had to go to the library to do exams.
Everything was upside-down. I really thought I might have to quit school.
It helped that I truly love this field. The support from my husband and community was also very important, as well as my spirituality.
As Muslims, we pray five times a day. Connecting with a higher power makes us feel like we can get through these hardships. It helps us retain emotional stability. In such uncertain times, when you don’t know what will happen tomorrow, with so many fears and concerns, being able to connect with our God throughout the day makes us feel like we aren’t weak.
I’m working on a paper with friends titled “Spirituality is Necessary for the Traumatized Brain,” and we are proud that our paper has been accepted for presenting at the 2022 National CYC Conference in Alberta.
This program is definitely something I can see myself succeeding in. I’m proud to have been one of the participants at the CYC Conference where we got to present the outcome of our Rubric Project to industry professionals. I also started the CYC Talk Podcast with some classmates, where we talked to kids about things like empathy respect, attention, and affirmation. Our aim was to create and safe environment for them to express themselves. We wanted to know what terms like these meant to them.
I’m also now a board member at the non-profit organization MATAB for empowering Muslim youth. We create a safe environment in which Muslim youth can feel secure and comfortable, a place for them to make connections and foster relationships. We help them build their Muslim and Canadian identities, as well as supporting parents and caregivers by helping them develop their parenting skills.
I would love to work in schools after I graduate. This field, it’s given me exactly what I was looking for: meaning and connections with others. I want to be here, I want to add something, to see, to join, to learn! I found myself here.
--Ala’ Alhyari, Child and Youth Care Practitioner
(Interviewed and written by Eugénie Szwalek; photo by Nolan Brinson)