The George
    Issue 3                          September 2016
Executive Director Announcement

After 17 years of dedication the GHC bid a fond farewell to Jane Bray upon her retirement in June as Executive Director. 

We are pleased to introduce our new Executive Director, Susan Chamberlain. A Social Worker by profession, Susan brings many years of experience both as a clinician and a respected leader in the field of children's mental health. Most recently, Susan was the Centre's Director of Residential and Day Treatment Programs. Welcome Susan!

Program Spotlight: Clear Directions

Clear Directions (CD) is a therapeutic day treatment program for adolescents with concurrent mental health and substance use issues. Its mission is simple: to help young people break the cycle of addiction, rebuild their lives and become productive members of society.  Working within a harm reduction philosophy, the GHC’s multi-disciplinary CD team engages youth by building on strengths, instilling hope, and inviting family and friends into the treatmentThe program takes place in a therapeutic Section 23 classroom, allowing youth to achieve school credits while undergoing treatment.

It is fair to say that life had always been tough for Che. His mother was addicted to crack cocaine and his father had been in and out of prison. As an infant, Che was turned over to his aunt who struggled with many of her own issues. Che was never told what happened to his parents, and layers of secrets separated him from his biological mom. In school and the community, Che was known as an angry boy, getting into fights and all kinds of trouble. He didn’t really understand who he was or what he did wrong. He lived in constant fear of being apprehended by Children’s Aid Society.

When Che began to be physically aggressive with family members, he was referred to the GHC’s Boys House. Here Che’s family found a place where they could express their concerns and feelings in a safe and relaxed environment. Che later joined the Clear Directions program to address his nascent substance use and trouble with peers. He responded quickly to CD’s relationship approach to change and started to trust his Youth Workers, teacher and class mates. Through meetings with his CD therapist, the family was finally able to ‘unpack’ some of the secrets of the past, enabling Che to gain a better understanding of who he was and of his feelings and experiences. As a result, Che’s drug use decreased dramatically, and over time he revealed his true self: a caring, sensitive, insightful young man with much to offer the world.

At Clear Directions, we sometimes quote the sculptor who, when asked how he was able to create such beautiful works of art, replied, ‘The sculpture was always there, I just removed the hard stuff’.

Microsoft WPC Initiative

Each year Microsoft holds the Microsoft World Partner Conference. An important part of the event is supporting a selected charity in the host city.  This year the conference was in Toronto and Microsoft chose The George Hull Centre!

On July 10th, 20 Microsoft employees set up four XBox One's, four new LCD TVs, eight Surface Pro Tablets and four All-in-one HP touchscreen computers in our two residences -all generously donated by Microsoft! The Centre also received $100,000 in software and technological support. Thanks to this gift, our residential clients can explore their creativity using cutting edge software applications and also improve their computer literacy. This donation also ensures that our clinical and administrative staffs have up to date technology allowing us to improve efficiency and communication with clients and community partners. Thank you Microsoft! Click here to see the recap video from this great day!

Back to School Mental Health Tips

School is back in session which can mean a rise in stress and anxiety for children, teens and parents alike. Below are some tips to help ease that transition.

1. Reinforce good sleep habits and fuel up! Getting plenty of rest and eating a healthy breakfast are key not only for school performance, but also for preventing depression and other mental health issues.
2. Be available. Children and teens appreciate connecting with a parent or caregiver at the end of their day (even if they don’t always show it.) Try to be available - in person or phone – and just listen.  Kids often just need to download but aren’t looking for answers.
3. Stay connected. As kids get older, they often share less with parents/caregivers, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to feel connected to you. Send encouraging texts or notes in their book bag to help reduce anxiety and let them know you are thinking of them.
4. Breathe!  Remind your kids (and yourself!) to take long, slow, deep breaths whenever they are feeling stressed, angry or unsettled. A few deep breaths can go a long way to calming the mind.

EchoAge Birthday Parties
EchoAge is a unique online birthday party website with a charitable twist! Party guests are invited to make a monetary gift contribution. Half the funds go to the child's selected charity and the other half to a fabulous birthday present of the child’s wishes. In this way, it teaches children the importance of giving back and introduces them to many different causes, while also eliminating the stress of finding a gift and "present overload." If you’d like host an EchoAge birthday party (or any party – wedding shower, anniversary, retirement) in support of The George Hull Centre, please visit the GHC's EchoAge webpage to get the party started!