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Preventative education key component of women’s shelter

Wheel Cares: Rowan House highlights initiatives during Family Violence Prevention Month
Rowan House Xmas 3497
Staff from the Rowan House Emergency Shelter gather around their Christmas tree for a photo in 2019. Rowan House is one of seven charities part of the 2021 Wheel Cares campaign. (BRENT CALVER/Western Wheel File Photo)

Rowan House works to be a safe place for women and children throughout the year, while providing education to youth, as well as outreach support and crisis intervention.  

“In the last little while, we’ve really just been doing our best to keep at what we do best,” said community relations co-ordinator Ally Cramm.  

She said that preventative education is one of the organization’s biggest initiatives and involves presenting to schools – both in person and via Zoom – about healthy relationships, dating violence and relationship red flags. Education begins in lower grades, discusses topics like friendship, and builds into more mature themes as students get older.  

Another aspect of Rowan House’s work is changing the narrative surrounding preventative learning, Cramm said.  

“If you are working with Rowan House or taking education from us, it doesn’t mean that your relationship is unhealthy,” she said. “It’s because your knowledge can help support others.”  

She added that a course is available to the general public on their website, as a way to aid in awareness on topics like dating violence.  

Rowan House is one of seven charities benefiting from the Western Wheel Cares campaign. The funds donated through Wheel Cares will go towards the preventative education program, including school presentations, said Cramm. 

“We just want to say how appreciative we are to be a part of the Western Wheel Cares campaign and what those donations from the community mean to us, because our prevention program could not exist without that community support,” Cramm said. “Everything that we do outside of crisis intervention is really a community effort and requires that community support and that’s where we’re going to make that change – moving upstream instead of dealing with the problem where it is, prevent it before it starts.  

“This means the world to us, that we’re able to fund that program through this campaign.”  

Being in shelter is difficult no matter the time of year but can be even more challenging during the holiday season. Cramm said that the staff at Rowan House work to make days such as Christmas feel as joyful as possible for those in tough situations.  

This includes putting up decorations and a tree, building gift baskets to open on Christmas Day, setting up stations for children to pick out gifts for their mothers and vice versa.  

Individuals seeking outreach support are also aided in creating a good holiday experience.  

“We would be connecting them with all the services in the Foothills […] to get the resources that they need to have the best Christmas they can living on their own,” she said.  

Ahead of the holidays, November is an important month at Rowan House, as it is Family Violence Prevention Month, Rowan said. They are running a few different initiatives to highlight the cause, including ‘Breakfast with the Guys’ which has a male speaker discussing the importance of men and boys in the prevention of abuse.  

Cramm said they are also running a t-shirt campaign, with slogans such as ‘Love Shouldn’t Hurt,’ ‘Break the Cycle’ and ‘Create Change.’ She said the hope is to open the conversation around domestic violence.  

“You can buy one of these shirts, and it comes with an educational pamphlet where you can go and learn a little more about abuse,” she explained. “It’s a way to invite conversation so that if someone in the community sees you wearing this shirt, they might ask you some questions and then you can talk about it.” 

The 2021 Western Wheel Cares campaign will benefit seven organizations: Rowan House, Foothills Advocacy in Motion Society, Foothills Country Hospice, Inclusion Foothills, Okotoks Food Bank, Pound Rescue and Sheep River Health Trust. 

In its 10th year, the campaign has raised $414,282. Last year’s run set a record for total donations with $71,379.65 raised.  

Rowan House is the first of seven charity features that will come in the following weeks.  

To donate to Western Wheel Cares: mail cheques to Box 150, Okotoks Ab. T1S 2A2 or click here for a Paypal donation link. 

As well, you can drop by to the Wheel office at 9 McRae St., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed from noon to 1 p.m. for lunch.)


Lauryn Heintz

About the Author: Lauryn Heintz

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