In all of these stories, children’s names have been changed. These are documented cases or composites of children’s lives whom we attend each day in the EvenStart Program. 

Each child's gifts and talents are celebrated at EvenStart. Children develop a new sense of worth, value, and pride. A healthy self-esteem replaces their fear, distrust, and sense of helplessness.

Our therapists, psychologists, and social worker team, along with special needs teachers, play, sing, laugh, console, and treat these children with care and love and deeply felt social service sentiment. 

Here are their stories ....

Bradley was referred again by social service to the EvenStart program. Bradley’s stepfather was jailed for the mistreatment and abuse of this child whom had been thrown down stairs. He had unhealed lacerations and bruising all over his body, along with physical mutilation of his private parts. Although Bradley’s recovery is slower than for most children, the EvenStart team of professionals considers his case hopeful. He has started to act more like a child and stops running to hide and sleep in safety under benches upon his arrival at the school each morning.

Jenny has been abused all her little life. She has never felt safe, never in control. Her stepfather locks her into the basement without food as a form of discipline. When he makes breakfast, he signals the Pit Bull to snap the toast from her hand. Jenny has tried to drink chemicals from under the sink. She has burned down the family home. Jenny was recently discovered through the Play Therapy component of our treatment program, to have been sexually abused and Social Services have intervened.

Carrie comes to our school program quiet and invisible. She has learned to survive domestic abuse by not being noticed. Children like Carrie retreat into their own worlds, searching for comfort from a frightening, unpredictable, and violent environment. Withdrawal is often the only way for self-protection and survival. An inner retreat is this child’s first chance to say to the outside world: “This is my choice!Upon entry to the EvenStart building each morning, Carrie now eagerly helps other children to reach their cubbies and to find reading books they like.

Johnny was referred to us by the Children’s Hospital at age three. He was not yet toilet trained and when diaper change was due the attending teacher noticed his bottom was blistered in the pattern of a stove top heating element. He and his brother had been physically abused until apprehended by Social Services and placed in foster care. We’re helping Johnny to recover through education and therapeutic interventions.

Kristy’s mother has a problem with drug abuse. Kristy is often taken to adult parties. At the age of three, she comes to school in sequined mini skirts, hair extensions, or a bikini bathing suit. She has no idea of what is reasonable for a child. While other children are dressing up and playing house, Kristy is acting out situations that include going to bars and meeting men. We work steadily with Kristy on learning what it is to be a child, on defining herself in terms of what is appropriate for a child and not an adult. We work to establish new values of self-respect and standards of normalcy for this little girl. With consistent care and guidance by the EvenStart team, Kristy has made great inroads.

Ollie came to us with no language skills, not toilet trained, and never having had interaction with other children or adults. Kept in motel room after motel, and guarded only by a German Shepard dog, Ollie was three years old when police raided the unit to discover the child alone for days on end. Incarceration of both parents involved in the drug and prostitution rings inCalgary,resulted in Ollie’s referral to the EvenStart program by authorities. Ollie now speaks up a storm, plays with toys, and enjoys social interaction with other children of the same age.

 

Kevin came to us at age four. He has been seen at the Children’s Hospital after trying to burn down his home. There is a history of alcohol abuse and violence by a step father who is in and out of the house. It is also discovered that Kevin has been molested by a boy in his housing complex. Placed in foster home after foster home, he tells us that all he wants is his own mommy and daddy; he constantly asks “why doesn’t that ever happen?After a year of EvenStart’s intervention, Kevin has now stopped destroying furniture and is the first in class to raise his hand to help!

Suzie was kept in a kitchen crib outfitted as a cage for the first three years of her lifeWith little direct human contact she had no verbal skills, was not toilet trained, and did not know how to read or singUpon placement in the EvenStart program, Suzie would have to be carried by staff during each class day. If let down, she would scream and howl. She could only make guttural sounds to indicate what she wanted or neededPictures taken of Suzie at the Zoo on a recent field trip show her climbing the Dinosaur with friends and giggling, laughing, and playing like a normal four-year old.