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Shawna

Discovered:

A new career.

A new way to teach.

As a Seneca graduate and current faculty member, Shawna has come full circle in her advocacy for children’s mental health. It started as a desire to support her own son’s needs in school. Now she’s working to change the way we support all children.

WHAT INSPIRED ME

I have many family members who are affected by mental health challenges, including my kids. That’s what started me on my journey to advocacy for children’s mental health support. I had studied to be an air traffic controller when my oldest son began having struggles in school. He was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder. To best support and advocate for his needs, I decided I needed a background in child development.

WHERE IT LED ME

Seneca’s Early Childhood Education apprenticeship program gave me the opportunity to learn about children’s development while also working at the same time. Through my experience, I came to realize that many children have the same challenges as my son, and that they weren’t getting sufficient support in the school system. There are large gaps in knowledge among educators on how to support children with mental health challenges and the kinds of intervention strategies to employ. Today through my work at Seneca, I’m helping to strengthen that knowledge.

“Seneca opened the door for me to help not only my son, but all children affected by mental health.”

WHAT I’M DOING NOW

I currently teach in the Child Development degree program at Seneca. I love that I’m able to give future educators and family support workers the tools to support people with mental health needs – while also working to break down the stigma that surrounds it. If we want to change the future for our children, we have to start with training our future educators, and the professors who are teaching those students. It’s exciting to see that the tide is turning. Seneca has been very supportive of my work, and has given me a tremendous opportunity to make a difference.

“Seneca is a strong supporter of mental health initiatives. We’re teaching the next generation of family support workers. I feel like I have an important role in changing the future – for all of our children.”

Shawna

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