Sparwood CRN Supports Students’ Journey into Post-Secondary

Awareness and education are the keys to adult abuse, neglect, and self-neglect prevention. For the local Community Response Networks (CRNs), it takes knowledge, creativity, and trusted relationships to meaningfully connect with members of the community. Public events and programs are some of the most common ways to get the message across. Other times, when external forces like a pandemic make it more challenging to connect with others, it takes innovation and imagination to form these important relationships.

A longtime goal of the Sparwood CRN team has been to connect with youth. “To date, we’ve focused on providing courses in our community and programs to seniors almost exclusively,” says Coordinator Lois Halko. “We wanted to find a way to bring the issue of adult abuse and neglect to the attention of the younger members in the community.”

Sparwood CRN Offers Its First Scholarship

“When we’re forming working relationships with schools, we’re connecting with teachers, principals, counselors, parents and families, and students,” adds Lois. “The system is already intergenerational.”

The idea to offer a scholarship from donated funding to high school students arose in part due to the pandemic. “We had to adapt how we packaged and delivered information. The scholarship came out of creative thinking,” she says.

The CRN committee chose to offer a $1,000 scholarship to a graduate of Sparwood Secondary School.

The team developed a comprehensive application process, which also asked students to submit a 250-to-500-word essay.

The scholarship was promoted through the local high school with the help of Sharlene Charest, a counselor with the Southeast Kootenay School District and Sparwood Secondary’s scholarship program coordinator. The CRN scholarship was marketed to the students from February to April.

“Applicants were specifically asked to write about the risk factors for adult abuse, neglect, and self-neglect in Sparwood, as well as some possible strategies the CRN and Sparwood community could employ to reduce these risk factors,” Lois says. “We were really impressed with what we received.”

The names of the winners were announced on the CRN’s Facebook page as part of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) 2021 on June 15.

Scholarship Shared Between Two Deserving Students

Kally Campbell (left) and Kourtney Holburton receive their scholarships at a recent COVID safe meeting with the Sparwood CRN. (Photo: L. Halko)

The essays did indeed impress the CRN committee, so much so that two students shared the earnings.

Kally Campbell, who is off to the University of British Columbia where she will pursue her Bachelor’s in Education, and Kourtney Holberton, who has been accepted into the University of Calgary’s nursing program, were each awarded $500 to assist with tuition.

In Kally’s essay, she writes*: “As a Sparwood teen, I haven’t heard much about the CRN and I would imagine neither have youth in our community. However, I believe it is important for youth to understand this ongoing issue and the risk factors that are involved with it. Although youth aren’t the ones directly affected, being knowledgeable can help decrease the number of seniors in our community that experience abuse.”

In her essay, Kourtney says*: “The Sparwood CRN offers a diverse number of programs to assist adults with abuse, neglect, and self-neglect. We need to bring more attention to the issue by finding new ways to inform people about the programs the CRN offers in Sparwood.”

Essays Provided Viable Strategies to Future CRN Activities, Plans

“Both essays had excellent ideas and strategies that our CRN will be using to further adult abuse and neglect education in the community,” Lois states.

One project they are actively pursuing involves designing a course on the topic of adult abuse, neglect, and self-neglect specifically for high school students. “We plan on adapting the BC CRN Gatekeeper program,” Lois continues. “We’re modeling on the success of existing online courses to make the content more applicable to teens.”

The CRN and Sparwood Secondary are aiming to launch this course sometime in the next school year. “I love how getting involved in a youth’s post-secondary education has produced so many more community-based opportunities that will have a long-term impact, bridge multiple generations, and ultimately help protect vulnerable adults on so many levels,” says Lois. “It’s exciting!”

How has your community connected generations? How have you done this?

For more on the Sparwood CRN Scholarship or the CRN and their activities, please contact Lois Halko at or follow them on Facebook.

*Excerpt was edited for length and clarity.

Written by: Debbie Chow, Links Communication Solutions. Follow Debbie on LinkedIn: @debbiechowabc

(Header Photo: Creative Commons License)

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