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29/1/20 I thought it might be good to tell you about some of the courses I am taking and how they have personally helped me, and how they will support me in being that much more aware as a member of the WCSS community and the wider community at large. To start off I think it is safe to say that despite the abuse I experienced in my formative years; I can definitely say I am not only a ‘survivor’ but indeed a ‘thriver’. I have worked long and hard at overcoming the effects of the deep traumas. In growing through the hurt and pain I have gained wisdom that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I am empathetic by nature but nurture has made me that much more aware of human nature and suffering, and what is happening in my immediate environment. I am passionate about mental health and healing. I thrive on fun, play and creativity but am also grounded in reality and the seriousness needed for presence in care. I am also aware of the necessity of giving people their space to be and let things work out for themselves. There is a great deal of trust in this ability and is a major principle of the Sudbury School model. In the last several years I have worked with many different approaches and modes of healing, from yoga; tai chi; dance; meditation; breathing exercises; to plant medicines; all playing a part in where I am now. After these very exciting and often trying years I find my life more steady and balanced than I’ve ever experience my life being. This steady and calm is allowing me to merge back into creativity and to study the things I am passionate about. Two years ago I took a year long course called Mental Health in the Community given through UCC. I graduated with honors and gained some much needed confidence in skills such as public speaking; research; writing and using my voice. Little did I know how much of what I was learning was going to tie in to being able to set up a school. Researching and getting to know Government polices along with the above mentioned skills has helped me in being able to lobby the government and have the confidence to work in groups and join with others for a great cause and something I feel passionate about. Some of the other courses I have been taking through Tusla include: The Child and Youth Participation Strategy, Resilience and Trauma Informed Care, and LGBTI+ Awareness. Each course has been an integral part of further healing and growth, often times peeling away the top layer to a new sense of being and awareness in myself and others. It has also been good to see where I am still triggered; to help me look deeper; to reflect on how to help support others in a professional manner; and how to contain the emotion that is bound to crop up from time to time. It is valuable to see that I do not have to cut myself off from emotions or put up a

wall but that I can still be a feeling staff member but in an adult manner. I am thankful I am able to avail of these courses and how relevant they are to where I am and what I am aiming to do. It is also so wonderful to see the awareness that is growing in our society around mental health, diversity and the rights of children and youth. ~ Becky (Rebecca) Firmage


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