I was in my final year of undergraduate studies at Saint Mary’s University, graduating with a psychology major, but running out of psychology classes to take. I decided to enroll in a criminology course that enabled me to get involved with local non-profit organizations that support various members of the HRM community. In my second semester, I had a chance to start a volunteer placement with BRAVE, a support service working with girls’ ages 6-11 who have significant social and behavioural issues, and their families. Once I went online and learned about the initiatives of the program, I was hooked and couldn’t wait to get started. At the beginning of my placement, I attended a two-day training workshop to learn about SNAP®, the cognitive behavioral model used in BRAVE programming. The skills learned through the model have so many important implications for the girls and their families. From emotion regulation to self-control to problem solving skills, the girls develop lasting and positive changes within these behavioral domains.
During my time at BRAVE, I always felt prepared to assist with individual mentorship/counselling sessions and to take on a lead role in childcare for the SNAP® girls’ siblings. When programming was not happening, the staff was just as busy! On these days, I got to sit in on staff meetings, help prepare group sessions and organize files. So much work goes into preparing each SNAP® session! Quickly, it was clear to me how dedicated the entire BRAVE team is to helping each girl and her family find success within the program.
There was a real sense of camaraderie between the staff and it created an energetic environment, which I was genuinely welcomed into during my placement. I received constant feedback that made me feel supported and keen to continue coming back. I would like to extend a huge thanks to the staff at BRAVE for this invaluable learning experience. On a final note, I’d like to comment on one of my favourite experiences during my volunteer placement. I was able to attend a SNAP® Girls Club graduation. The sense of gratification in the room coming from the parents, the staff, and most importantly the girls, was incredible. Lucky for me, I was able to witness it all, from inside a mascot suit as ‘SNAP® the Dragon,’ fuzzy and green from head to toe! I must say that I was excited to volunteer with the BRAVE program, but did not know what to expect. Truthfully, my time at BRAVE and all it entails exceeded anything I could have anticipated.