Children’s Program

Kara Garcia - Women's Counsellor Advocate

"These kids are developing the self-esteem, self-respect, and life skills that many adults wish they had. Their lives will be much better after staying here." – Kara, Women's Counsellor Advocate

In our big and bright playroom, kids play freely with toys and activities. We have structured family activities, like baking and gardening. On Saturdays we go on free or inexpensive outings to festivals, attractions or movies. Women at Interval House have often been isolated and dependant on their abusers, so we help them gain confidence exploring the city and taking transit. For many families, their first visit to the Zoo, the Art Gallery or the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) is with Interval House.

Our children’s counselling programs are unstructured, and this is a key distinction between the Children’s Program and Women’s Program. Our Children’s Counsellor Advocates observe how children play and interact with each other to determine how the abuse has affected them, and work out how to address it. Our approach is very much geared to the specific needs of each child.

We tailor our programs for kids by age. With younger kids, we focus on sharing and co-operation. Our art group facilitator helps kids express themselves in a safe and creative way. We have special programs like Nobody’s Perfect, a partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada, for moms and kids under 5 that reconnect them through play, singing and reading. Parenting in an abusive home is often about keeping children quiet and safe – and here moms rediscover how to engage and bond with their kids.

With older kids, we talk about sexuality, bullying, defining abuse and explore their feelings about leaving their neighbourhood and their belongings behind. Our children’s groups are co-facilitated by a male and female professional, and this role models a positive and respectful interaction many kids have never seen for themselves.