2012 Award Recipient: Jacolyn Trites
I am truly humbled to have been presented with the Martha Mattingly scholarship at the 2013 World CYC conference in Newfoundland CA, in June, 2013.
As I was writing my letter of application for this award, I spent some time exploring who Martha Mattingly was. What I discovered was that she was a mentor, a teacher, an academic, a friend and a professional who had vision. She was all of the things that I strive to be. I took the opportunity to apply for the scholarship, not really believing that I would even have a shot; it was open to a whole world of developing professionals.
When I was notified that I was one of the two successful candidates, I found myself in a state of disbelief. I felt like I had won an Oscar! I was bubbling with excitement and in shock that I had been chosen. Being awarded this scholarship was the opportunity of a lifetime; it was because of this financial scholarship that I was able to attend the CYC World Conference in NL – an experience which has been life changing.
Upon my arrival to Newfoundland, I became so overwhelmed with the people, the information sharing, the knowledge, and the passion; I found myself so humbled by the privilege I had been given. I am a Child and Youth Care practitioner because I love it. I am a Child and Youth Care practitioner to my core, it runs through my blood, and there I was, with more than 500 people who shared my passion! What a surreal experience!
When I had the honour of sitting down to lunch with the selection committee, and they wanted to talk about me, celebrate me, I let them know that celebrating me is not something that I am very good at. I am really great at celebrating the youngsters with whom I work, the students with whom I facilitate, my colleagues and friends, but not myself. I don’t need to be celebrated. The young people are the ones who need us, who long for someone to show them genuine caring, push them to do better, challenge them to grow, set boundaries and offer structure.
I believe in the work that I do, and because of that belief my work is genuine. I have a story, and I share pieces of it as I see fit. I do my work (although it is hard to call it that) relationally; I believe that it is the best way to practice. Gerry Fewster said in his keynote “Relationship is not a feeling. Relationship is an action.” This resonates much of what my practice is. Yes, I care about the youngsters, and it shows up in every engagement I have with them, but it is more than that. I tell them that they are important, I help them see each of their successes, I am an advocate, I am vulnerable with them, and I have expectations. The youngsters with whom I am therapeutically engaged, meet those expectations, are vulnerable with me, and learn to celebrate themselves. And THIS is why I love what I do!!
Telling my story: connecting through tattoos!
I recently had the pleasure of having someone ask me, with some hesitation, if she could see the tattoo I have on my arm. With great excitement I asked her if she would like to hear the story if my tattoos; it is a story that I love to share, and I wear my tattoos proudly because they represent my journey. I shared with this person that it is my belief that all tattoos have a purpose, a story, and in my experience people most often like to share that story.
This is mine:
In 2000, I welcomed into the world a very healthy little person who is my complete world! I was in a very unhealthy relationship and soon found myself raising this little bundle of pure joy by myself. I was a high school dropout, had no training, and not an ounce of self-esteem. I was lucky to have a job in a foster home that I could take my son to every day, but knew that the environment wasn’t always safe for him to be there. In 2005, I decided that I needed to go back to school. I received my grade 12 diploma equivalent in 2006, graduating with honours, third in my class. I had a faculty member who believed in me, fostered my resilience, and told me that I could be someone. I applied for college and in 2008, received my Child and Youth Care diploma. I had gone through a significant change; from a caterpillar cocooned into a butterfly, a seed had been planted and I had bloomed. All I had to do was imagine I could do it, believe in myself for a moment, and I could achieve my goals!
I soon found myself in a place that I did not recognize; I was successful. I had not known this feeling before now, and I discovered that I liked it! I soon believed that I had the ability to go places, but still needed some encouragement and nurturing. Within two years, I was a fulltime Child and Youth Care Worker, and after another year was invited to become a causal faculty in the very program that I had graduated from.
It was then when I decided on my STRENGTH and COURAGE tattoos. Taking on this opportunity to facilitate was going to push me out side of my comfort zone, again and again. It would challenge me to be able to articulate theory connected to practice, to be confident in my practice, and to learn to trust myself to be able to take on new opportunities for learning. The heart is a copy of a pendant that was my first Mother’s Day gift from my son; a mother embracing a child.
As I have continued to engage in my journey, I found myself wanting to do more, know more, and become more. There is a song by Johnny Reid (Maher and Reid, 2010 track 11), that offers me inspiration, and a belief that I can get to wherever I want to be. The lyrics are “Just when I feel I've reached the moon you look at me and say, ‘Let's go higher, let's go higher’. The woman who is my mentor, my friend, my confidante, is the “you” that reminds me when I forget, that I am strong, I am powerful and I have places to go!
My tattoos are unique; I have created them to tell my story. Now, I am waiting for the inspiration for my next one!!!!