Real life education through kidsLINK
Internship a powerful experience for Maria Armstrong
By: Kristian Partington
University education is great for passing along theories and allowing students to hone in on the ideas that might carry them forward in whatever career they choose, but it’s not until they hit the ground in a work environment that textbook knowledge comes alive.
For Maria Armstrong, completing her internship at kidsLINK opened her eyes to the strength of the human spirit in ways no textbook ever could have and looking forward she says her time there will most certainly shape how she approaches her future in social work.
Her placement was the final step in the pursuit of a degree in Social Work through the University of Waterloo, and the experience was a powerful one, she says.
kidsLINK prides itself on welcoming students from all around the world and infusing in them a true sense of how building resilience, healing from trauma and pursuing wellness in mind, body and spirit can help children and families navigate the challenges of mental health issues effectively.
Maria saw how the team at kidsLINK lives the wellness approach everyday, consistently discussing the tools and ingredients needed to live a healthy life, and she now appreciates how that dedication translates directly into the lives of clients.
Staff members “really try to incorporate wellness into their own everyday life because how do you expect other people to do it; how do they expect clients to do it if they’re not doing it themselves,” Maria says.
As she reflects on the months she spent learning from the children, families and the kidsLINK team, she was most surprised by the strength of the children she worked with.
She’d never pictured herself working in the children’s mental health field, she says, but the power young people have within them to overcome the burdens of adverse experience and mental health issues is real, and helping them discover and work with that power is a noble position to be in.
“It really drove home the concept of resilience; how people can actually go through these things,” she explains.
“A lot of them go through things that you or I can’t imagine and they’re still able to bounce back and cope and make the best out of what they’ve been given.
“It’s not about being a patient or having a mental health issue- they are people with ideas and opinions and it is important that we consider those and incorporate them into our work”.
In June, she finished her placement and with her education complete, she’s looking forward to bringing a new child into the world this fall.
Looking ahead though, the field of children’s mental health is certainly in her career sights, and she’d love nothing more than to join the organization on a full-time basis as it continues to innovate and discover new ways to help the people it serves.
“I would love to work for kidsLINK again,” she says. “It was just such a cool organization; it’s progressive and they’re trying to be better everyday.
“If I could work there for free, I would.”
If you have questions, comments or a story to share, please contact kristian(at)axiomnews.ca, or call 800-294-0051, ext. 24.
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800-294-0051 ext. 24