Continuing to Fight the Good Fight

Grant from ECF enables Little Warriors to adapt their essential services during pandemic

Since 2005, Little Warriors has been helping survivors of sexual abuse develop methods of managing their trauma.

The non-profit uses evidence-based practices to help children, adolescents, and their families through two main divisions: one focused on preventative and advocacy programming, and another offering intensive, in-person treatment at the organization’s Be Brave Ranch. The organization works with about 100 children from across Canada per year, as well as with their families.

With the onset of the pandemic, Little Warriors’ in-person work was put on pause for a few months. But it was vital for them to remain connected with their clients, as the daily stresses of the pandemic can add extra tensions to those already experiencing trauma.

“All of our children, all of our adolescents, and most of our families have quite significant trauma histories,” says Wanda Polzin, clinical director of Little Warriors. “With COVID being another layer on top of that, it often triggers the trauma response for the children or teens or families.”

Fortunately, Little Warriors received $15,900 from the Edmonton Community Foundation’s Emergency Community Support Fund (ECSF) to create the Be Brave Bridge. The program allowed Little Warriors to continue their work online, connecting parents and adolescents directly with councillors and coaches. An online children’s program is also in development.

Together, the Canadian Red Cross, Community Foundations of Canada and United Way Centraide Canada are collaborating with the Government of Canada to flow ECSF support to those who need it most right now.

The ECSF funding helped Little Warriors to not only create and implement their online program, but to purchase the equipment necessary to enact it: The funding covered laptops for the clinical staff, as well as the material costs for participants, and getting those sent wherever they need to go. The funding also ensured that the families of the children involved in their in-person treatment are given new ways of supporting their loved ones as well.

“This online program is enabling us to connect with those families and give them trauma strategies and tools, so that they’re on the same page as their child,” says Laurie Szymanski, CEO of Little Warriors. “It’s really opened that door to extend across Canada, where we couldn’t before because of travel.”

Little Warriors’ in-person work is now back as an essential service, but their reach has been permanently strengthened by this support. They are now fielding requests from as far away as Australia, thanks to the new programming’s borderless range.

“We’re a little bit surprised by that,” Polzin says. “We’ll do what we can, given our resources. It’s just opened up a new way for us to be able to support people.”

Learn more about ECF’s response to COVID-19.