Formed in September, the Child Advocacy Society of the University of Alberta (CASUA) is a new group that is hoping to get students on campus aware of the issue of child abuse.
CASUA was co-founded by Kelsey Drall, a second-year master of science student in the department of pediatrics. She became interested in child advocacy after going out for coffee with a former classmate and hearing him talk about his new job at a child advocacy centre in Red Deer.
Prior to meeting with her friend, Drall, who is also the club’s president, said she had never heard of child advocacy centres or the work that they do.
“He kind of gave me a brief overview, and we decided what child advocacy centres do is just so great that we need to make a club about it,” she said.
Having talked to numerous students at clubs fair in September, Drall said she wasn’t surprised that most of the people she talked to didn’t know what child advocacy centres were or what they did. However, with her new group, Drall’s hopes to change that.
“I think that if we can change that, to even 80 per cent or lower that number and make more students aware of these centres, we will be better off,” Drall said.
CASUA will work in collaboration with the Zebra Child Protection Centre in Edmonton, a non-profit organization that works to bring together and disclose the stories of children who have undergone abuse. Members of CASUA won’t be working with children and their abuse cases directly but will work with the group to raise money, as well as awareness about the cause.
While the club is still planning their advocacy activities, they’re hoping to raise awareness by holding a variety of events and fundraisers. Drall said one event CASUA is planning next year is to deliver guest lectures about child advocacy work in nursing or education courses.
Drall added that there are three main goals set by the club related to their mission; to raise awareness about child abuse, to fundraise, and to expose volunteers to work with child abuse advocacy centres. In order to meet their goals, members of CASUA will work in one of three teams. The teams include; public outreach, awareness raising, and fundraising and event planning.
Drall said she’ll be seeking input from students on how to direct the group’s advocacy efforts, as well as future events. People who are interested can contact the members of CASUA executive team in order to get more information about the club.
“I think that this cause is something that is very easy to get passionate about,” Drall said. “Everyone knows somebody who has been through some kind of abuse.”
With files from Vo Duc Hien Tran.