During a summer outing with her family, Lake Country student Reanne Pearson heard a story about a young boy who was living in an abusive household.
The boy’s mother was being abused and the children were forced to live through what Pearson thought was an unhealthy situation. The Grade 12 student was deeply affected by the story of abuse, so much so that she decided to do something about it.
“We heard this story about a family where the wife was getting abused and it really hit home because I didn’t realize how big of a problem this was in the world,” said Pearson, 17. “I felt it was important to do something because maybe the kids didn’t know that what was happening in their house was wrong. I think it’s important that the kids know this isn’t right and there is somewhere they can get help.”
So with that in mind, Pearson went to work, contacting the Kelowna Women’s Shelter, the Central Okanagan School District and the George Elliot Parent Advisory Council to organize what is now a two day event that will be held this Thursday and Friday at the school.
During lunch hour she, along with members of the Kelowna Women’s Shelter and the faculty at George Elliot, will be providing fellow students with information on domestic abuse and where kids can get information for guidance and counseling. Pearson also approached local businesses to secure donations for draw prizes to help generate interest in her event and raise money, with any proceeds going to the women’s shelter.
“It’s important for high school students to know what a healthy relationship looks like so if they are being abused or see abuse they realize what the difference is between a healthy and abusive relationship,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be physical abuse. It can be mental, psychological, sexual. It could be happening to anybody.”
Pearson is hoping to make this an annual event at the school and provide students with information on abuse on an ongoing basis, rather just a one-off event. She is expecting to attend UBCO to study psychology next year but is taking steps to make sure there are students who will follow in her footsteps.
“I want to pick out individuals from each grade below me so this can keep occurring,” she said. “I don’t want this to be a one time event, I want this to continue on when I’m not at the high school.”
Pearson is no stranger to giving back to the community. In the past she has volunteered at the boys and girls club, has helped organize a ride for the cure for breast cancer as well as working with children with disabilities. She says if one person is touched by this week’s healthy relationship event, it will be a success.
“All I want is for kids to be aware that abuse is occurring,” she said. “The greater feeling will be knowing I helped somebody and got the awareness out in the community.”