Caitlin Dendy, a third-year child and youth care student at Algonquin College, has always been an advocate for her profession but especially after cuts from the provincial government.
She believes more people need to bring awareness to the good work of CYC workers, and looks to J.R. Fresher as a good example.
Fresher, a barber who runs his own shop and helps troubled youth get their life back on track, demonstrates the importance of helping children and youth according to Dendy. His work stems from his own rough childhood.
Fresher and his father were best friends, but when he was young his dad passed away. Fresher ran away from home and started living on the streets where had run-ins with the law.
Fresher was homeless for three years until he returned to his family. He saw a sign of hope when he started cutting hair at a barber shop to learn about the trade. He quickly caught on and brought in a model to showcase his talent just three weeks in.
Fresher worked full-time before opening his barber shop Fresher Studios in 2016. However, he did not just open the shop for himself but to help others. Fresher and a partner opened up a program through the shop, Human Barber Shop, last September, which helps troubled kids stay off the streets and out of the prison system.
This is a pilot project where he video tapes his clients to create tutorial videos and works one on one with up-and-coming barbers.
Fresher’s community work resonates with Dendy. His story inspired her and speaks to the career she wants to pursue in her future.
Glue Magazine caught up with Dendy to talk about child and youth care and how Fresher’s pilot project brings awareness to the career and situation.
Why does the child and youth care program resonate with you?
Coming out of high school, I applied to this program because I have always had a passion for mental health advocacy and helping others.
How does J.R. Fresher’s story reflect with you and how does it connect with your program?
Freshers’s story made me emotional. In the beginning when he was homeless, it made me think of all the ways I wanted to help that young man. The person he was before the successful barber shop was a prime example of who a child and youth care (CYC) practitioner, strives to guide. This young man displayed amazing resilience. [His] shop now gives homeless youth an opportunity at a second chance. He is a prime example of what a CYC represents.
What does CYC mean to you?
CYC means helping people who are and love helping others, we work with a variety of different clients and we learn so much.
Why did you choose this profession?
I chose CYC because I always loved working with kids or youth. I’m a positive, outgoing person and I loved watching how the educational assistants in my high school would help others. They would also help me get through stuff and that opened my eyes and showed me what I really wanted to do.
Why do you think CYC is important and do you believe it is needed now more then ever?
I think CYC’s are very important. We advocate for those who can not, we are in your community centres, non-profit agencies, group homes, and many other places. There will always be a demand for CYCs because there will unfortunately be children and youth who are not able to advocate for themselves. We are those people to get them to where they need to be. Just like the barber helping homeless youth.
Why should students care about CYC?
Students should be aware of who CYCs are. We are here for everyone, no matter how small the issue may seem.
How do you advocate for awareness for this profession?
I advocate for awareness of who CYCs really are by addressing a myth: We are not babysitters. We are advocates for children, youth and their families. We provide guidance, advice and so many other things. We are everywhere.