Tell us your name and the name of the project or initiative you are involved with.
My name is Kai Ruhl and I am the organizer of Supporting Survivors in Schools. Supporting Survivors in Schools is an initiative to bring awareness surrounding gender-based violence into schools as well as into the community through education and awareness. It is also an initiative to support survivors who have faced gender-based violence in schools as well as in the community.
What have you most loved and appreciated about the community project/initiative that you are involved in?
I have most loved and appreciated the community for their ongoing support surrounding the initiative, such as sharing my Instagram posts for awareness and supporting the Nelson High School walkout which I organized which then led to me starting Supporting Survivors in Schools as an ongoing initiative.
Some supporters of the initiative include the HDSB (Halton District School Board) Student Trustees, SAFE Halton, SAVIS of Halton, The Women’s Centre of Halton, the Mayor of Burlington as well as other community members (please note that Supporting Survivors in Schools is not directly affiliated with these organizations or people).
Starting this initiative has given me the opportunity to talk with these community organizations and people in regard to making change within schools and the community. This initiative has also inspired others to spread awareness of gender-based violence within the community. Overall, I believe that Supporting Survivors in Schools has brought the community together to raise awareness on gender-based violence and to be educated on it, as well as being able to support survivors.
What is your connection to the project/initiative, and why is it so important to you?
As a survivor of gender-based violence, this initiative means a lot to me as I believe there is a strong lack of awareness of gender-based violence within the community, especially within schools. When I faced gender-based violence from another student, I found that the school had a lack of understanding of how to handle the situation after I came forward. This is what led to the Nelson High School walkout. For example, the Halton District School Board (HDSB) currently does not have a specific sexual assault policy and does not recognize consent awareness, which is something I would like to see implemented within schools. I also hope to see the community recognize Consent Awareness Week and education on consent. So many youths within the community are uneducated on gender-based violence and this must change, as well as adults. I also believe that other survivors deserve support and for their voices to be heard. As a survivor, activism has helped me heal from my trauma which has led me to start this initiative.
What is happening through the project/initiative that you would like to see more of?
I would like to see more opportunities within the community to spread the word on awareness and education surrounding gender-based violence, especially in schools. So far I have been making informational Instagram posts and staying in contact with HDSB student trustees. I hope to see more people become aware of my initiative so that more people can understand what is happening within the community and be able to educate themselves.
What would you like to see happen next for the project/initiative?
I would like to see more people become aware of my initiative, as well as becoming more involved within the community with my initiative. I also hope to see the HDSB make some changes surrounding gender-based violence within schools such as implementing a specific sexual assault policy and recognizing Consent Awareness Week. The community must be educated on gender-based violence in order to make a change. I also hope to gain volunteers for my initiative. My advocacy has started with schools but I believe that this is an important issue for the whole community.
What would you want or need from the community to make your next steps successful?
I need the community to be more aware of my initiative so that the community can become more educated on what is happening in the community. This can include community support through sharing my initiative as well as the community reaching out to provide opportunities that may help my initiative. Community members should be willing to be educated on gender-based violence within schools and the community in order to make change.
I also hope to hear from community members and survivors who may want to volunteer with my initiative so that I’m not doing it completely alone, such as having survivors share their personal stories to spread awareness. Gender-based violence is a huge issue within the community that must be addressed, especially among youth.
If all those good things happened, what could be made possible in our community that wasn’t possible before?
I believe that if these things happened, gender-based violence could be reduced in the community and schools as more people would become aware of it. I also believe that survivors will feel heard and supported, which is extremely important for healing. Overall, I believe that these things will make the community more aware of what gender-based violence is, what they can do to make changes to reduce the amount of gender-based violence within the community and schools, and how they can support the survivors around them.
Be a newsmaker!
What would happen if we celebrated what is strong in Halton?
Community Development Halton is interested in sharing the news of individuals, groups and organizations that are strength-based, working at the edges and the middle of issues of community well-being, social justice and community building in Halton. We are pleased to share the first story.
If you are interested in sharing your story, please head to the following LINK. We are excited to hear from you!