Program providing forum for people to build, maintain healthy relationships


Initiative encouraging people to learn from one another
Wednesday March 23, 2011 — Deron Hamel

A program being run through the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion’s (BACI) outreach initiative is working to help people develop and maintain healthy relationships.

The Simple Steps to Healthy Relationships program was created by outreach counsellors Cherry Sheena and Jake Keithley in an effort to provide people accessing services from BACI with a forum to discuss relationship building and learn from one another.

“Just maintaining relationships (can be) really difficult, and there may be a roadblock that causes people just to stop talking to each other completely when (the issue) could have been easily rectified by having some skills,” says Cherry.

Through the program, which consists of seven classes, the nine people currently enrolled are learning from each other about what might cause these “roadblocks” to happen. They are also discussing ways to prevent obstacles from reoccurring.

Cherry says the number 1 desired outcome from the program is that people attending will walk away with enhanced confidence about how to create relationships, as well as learn about the components of healthy interaction.

People interested in participating in the program first go through a screening process that helps facilitators discover areas of interest for people and to learn about goals and desired outcomes.

Once these factors are established, facilitators have a clear understanding about how they can best support the group.

Cherry underscores that facilitators are only there to guide discussions — it’s up to the people attending to talk about solutions to challenges.

“We have set it up in such a way that it’s almost like a group counselling session where people learn more from each other than they learn from us,” she says.

“We’re really there to facilitate conversations but, more so, people will learn from each other.”

While the program is not accepting new participants at the moment, there will be more sessions offered in coming weeks. You can learn more by contacting the outreach program at 604-299-7872.

If you have any feedback on this story, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 23, or e-mail deron(at)

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