When Todd* was admitted to Ranch Ehrlo, clinical caseworker Tandi van Tol set about discovering his strengths.
One of them, she learned, was running.
“I intentionally connected with him, and, being a runner myself, we went for a 5 km run together,” she explained.
“One of my goals as a caseworker is to intentionally build a safe and nurturing relationship with our youth,” Tandi continued, explaining that in her experience, one of the best ways to do so is through inclusiveness.
When an opportunity came up for Todd to participate in the Queen City Marathon held last weekend, Tandi approached him to ask if he would be interested and inquired if he had anyone in mind that he may like to run with.
“By providing an opportunity for him to make a decision about whether or not he would like to participate, and whether or not he would like to run with someone or not, was crucial in building his capacity for decision making and valuing the decision he had made,” Tandi explained.
Todd invited his cousin, who lives in his home community, to come down and run the race with him. She accepted, and their family drove down on race day to support them.
“Since one of our goals in residential care is to strengthen family relationships, this was the perfect opportunity to allow for this growth,” Tandi said. “Todd is very connected to his family and his community, and this opportunity allowed them to have a new experience together as a family.”
The two of them put up impressive times in the 5 k, both completing in under 30 minutes.
“Todd was quite emotional once he completed the race, and gave everyone a hug as they congratulated him,” Tandi said.
Afterward, he was able to enjoy lunch and spend more time with his family.
Tandi used several CARE principles in her interactions with Todd – competence centred, developmentally focused, relationship-based, and family involvement all played significant roles in helping this experience come together for him. CARE, Children And Residential Experience: Creating Conditions for Change, is a multi-level model used at The Ranch, developed by Cornell University.
Through CARE principles, children, youth, adults, families, and employees work together to achieve their full potential.