NOYFSS offering programs even during pandemic

NOYFSS still counselling

Like some of their programs, Pink Shirt Day looked a little different at NOYFSS, but it still happened.

The North Okanagan Youth and Family Services Society would normally be providing pink doughnuts on Feb. 24, but due to COVID restrictions, this year's event was marked by placing inspiring messages on the downtown Vernon building.

NOYFSS offers a variety of programs for families and youths, including some related to bullying.

Government-mandated restrictions have changed the way NOYFSS offers those services, with more of a virtual component to the counselling, while still doing some in-person counselling.

Pre-COVID, NOYFSS offered a highly successful program that would see bullies work with the elderly who are in stages of dementia.

Jodi McGrandle, NOYFSS program coordinator, said the agency developed a partnership with Heron Grove seniors facility where the Taking Care of You and Me program sees young people to learn empathy.

“We want to teach children how to be empathetic to others,” said McGrandle. “We take our kids to Heron Grove and work with vulnerable adults. It has really allowed the kids to practice their skills of empathy.”
Unfortunately, that group program has been put on hold due to the COVID social distancing measures, but McGrandle hopes it will be back in the fall.

“One of the things we want families to know is kindness doesn't hurt. Kindness is where we need to go and if you can be kind to others, then that reduces bullying,” she said, adding it is difficult to gauge if bullying is on the rise or decline.

NOYFSS also encourages parents to be aware of what their children are doing online.

McGandle said because of COVID restrictions, they are unable to run most of the kid group programs, but individual in-person counselling and virtual counselling is still available.

“We know it's really hard to do virtually, so we are hoping by the summer time we will be able to start running some of our kid's groups,” she said.

“We want to get the kids back in our building not only for our anti-bullying group, but the other activities that we run.”

For more information on NOYFSS, see their website.

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