Shane Clarke: Words that nurture

Shane Clarke is an experienced and energetic social service professional who is a Bridges Out of Poverty | Circles Coach and a vocal poverty reduction advocate. With a passion for community building, Shane works to build an inclusive community where everyone has the resources and social capital to thrive. Shane has a degree from King’s University College in English Language and Literature, a certificate from Western University in Not-for-profit Management, and a certificate from Fanshawe College in Human Services Foundation.

As a kid, I knew lots of other children who were struggling. Lots who were dealing with big challenges at home. Some who were abused, neglected, or both. 

I grew up with kids who lived in homes where they experienced the fallout of addiction and mental illness. I saw kids getting dropped off at school by social workers and heading to the office every morning to get behavioural meds. I wanted to know why. 

Why were these kids and their families struggling, and where were they headed?

I first started helping young people in residential group homes and the youth custody system. From there, I began doing outreach work with Londoners experiencing homelessness. Now, I work in a program that pairs folks who are experiencing poverty with mentors from the community.

One thing that has become abundantly clear to me over the course of both my personal life and professional career is that childhood trauma seems to be a common experience for many of the folks I’ve met. 

And because of that, I put a high value on providing the best, most supportive and nurturing childhood for my own kids.

At some point, while trying to figure out how to give my daughters the best chance at success in a world full of challenges, I figured out that I could not help them be their best unless I was at my best.

So I vowed that I would never be too tired to get down on the floor and play with my girls. I would never be too emotionally drained from work to read stories or put on impromptu plays and dance recitals in the living room. 

This meant making some changes.

I started eating differently, getting physically active, and being very intentional that I was making mental health self-care a part of my life. It meant recognizing when I had too much coffee and not enough vegetables. It meant recognizing when I needed to go talk to someone or when I needed go for a walk. 

Actualizing my full potential had always seemed like a nice idea. But once I saw the importance of it for my children, that’s when it really sunk in.

The most important thing you can do for your kids is to take care of yourself. Little people learn about the world from big people. Be the best big person you can be. The world can be tough on kids; home shouldn’t be. 

Teach your kids to be resilient by modeling resilience. 
Teach your kids to be kind by demonstrating kindness - to yourself and to others. 
Teach your kids the value of helping by being helpful. 

Dream with them. 
Sing songs. 
Be silly. 

They’ll thank you. 

Giving your children the best chance starts with words.