Hi! I'm Cheryl, pleased to meet you!
I started Ignite Wellness Programs in January 2013. Going out on my own and starting my own business was pretty far out of my comfort zone, but I had this idea that had me excited - so excited that I would wake up in the morning feeling excited instead of just tired. I don't think that had ever happened before! It was hard to leave my job at the time - I loved my clients and I felt that the work I was doing as a domestic violence outreach worker was important, but the job wasn't a great fit for my family life. Plus I worried that no one would hire me or buy my programs.
The thing that made me start Ignite is that I really believe that I can help, that I have something valuable to say. I have always wanted to be kind and to help people. I was that kid in elementary school who would notice if a certain kid never got picked when we would play 7-Up in class and I would make sure to choose them on my next turn. I was also that kid that would sit there with their head down on their desk and worry that no one would pick me.
In university I majored in Psychology and minored in Sociology. I was going to learn how to help people! After university, I worked as a family and child services worker, a counsellor at an alternative high school, a group facilitator for a girl's leadership group, and then as an outreach worker for an organization that helps those experiencing domestic violence. I read and researched a lot because the things my clients needed weren't always things that I had learned in school.
My clients taught me a lot. I had the privilege of hearing their stories and earning their trust. I had the honour of witnessing their strength and their struggles. I got to sit with them and their pain and see what real strength, determination, hope, and faith looked like. I think of them often. I wonder how they are doing.
Did I help them? I wish I could tell you that I was able to make everything better for all of them, but that's not how life works. I know I did the best I knew how to do for each of them. I know I made a big difference for several because they told me so. I regret that there was not more that I could do for others. What saddens me the most is that these beautiful people ended up in these situations in the first place. Which leads to the question, how could things have gone differently?
Most of the work I have done has been reactive - I meet people when they are in a unhealthy or crisis situation and I try to help them through it. Or the work we do together revolves around something bad that has happened in their past. Although rewarding, this type of work is draining. What I really would love to do is be proactive - to prevent these "bad" things from happening in the first place. Clearly an unrealistic goal. Or is it?
When I got to really thinking about it, the conversations I had with adults in an unhealthy relationship, revolved around the same themes as the conversations I had with the teenagers in the alternative school, and the foster kids I worked with. They may have been at different stages in their lives, but they all needed the same skills. What if I could teach young people those skills early on - would it make a difference? Would it prevent them from ending up in unhealthy or crisis situations later on in their lives? Would it help them to be happy? I don't know how measurable that is, but at the very least they would have the knowledge and skills to make healthy decisions for themselves, and that is a pretty good start.
That is why I started Ignite Wellness Programs. I truly believe that when people realize their self worth and value, have the knowledge of what a healthy relationship looks like, and have the skills and confidence to think critically and be resilient, then they have the best chance at a bright and beautiful future.
So that is what I do now - I write and lead programs and workshops that teach an assortment of resiliency skills. It feels great and I believe it makes kids and families stronger. I think my programs are kind of like vitamins - I give my kids vitamins every morning to keep their bodies strong and healthy. Teaching them resiliency skills are like vitamins that keep them mentally strong and healthy.
Thanks for stopping by to meet me! If you would like to find out more about what I do, please check out the rest of the website or fill out the contact form so we can get in touch. I'd love to meet you!